The Las Vegas Raiders may have had one of the consistently worst defenses in the NFL during the 2010s but that looks like it’s going to change in 2020. The team has invested a lot of money and draft picks into improving the defense and it should start to pay off. It starts with the linebackers.
Year after year, the Raiders have fielded a very weak linebacker corps. The team spent big money to add Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski and they’re already making an impression. Second-year safety Johnathan Abram said it “looks like day and night” having them on the field.
“Playing with Cory Littleton is like playing with another safety. … We are way faster on defense,” Abram said Wednesday.
Speed is something the Raiders have lacked in recent years, which is bizarre because that’s something the franchise became known for during their glory years. Having a faster defense doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better. However, the team also added a lot of skill. It’s a young defense but it should get better as the season goes on.
Abram Is Playing Smarter
Abram is technically a second-year player but this is essentially his first season. He missed 15 games during his rookie year due to injury so he didn’t get a lot of experience. Though he doesn’t have a lot of game experience to go off of, Abram is making sure to play smarter.
“More so, I’m just being smarter this year,” Abram said. “Making sure that I’m available because the best ability is availability. So, just making sure I stay healthy. That’s my biggest concern this year. The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is just being out there with my teammates and helping the guys get a couple wins and get to the playoffs and do what we need to do to turn this thing around.”
Hopes were really high for Abram last year as a first-round pick. The Raiders pass defense missed him. If he can stay healthy, he should be an impact player for the team.
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Abram Not Concerned About Youth in the Secondary
With the news earlier in the week that the Raiders released Prince Amukamara, the team has made a firm decision to rely on youth in their secondary for 2020. There are bound to be growing pains along the way but Abram doesn’t sound worried about it.
“I don’t think experience has any part to do with it,” Abram said. “I mean, it doesn’t matter who’s out there. If it’s five veterans out there on the field and they don’t communicate, then they can’t play fast and they can’t play well together. If we don’t communicate, we can’t perform at a high level.”
Between Abram, Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette, there’s a combined 11 NFL starts. If everything goes as expected, all three men will be starters Week 1 for the silver and black. The Raiders are facing many of the best wide receivers in the NFL this year so it’s a pretty big endorsement that the team hasn’t tried to add or keep a veteran or two.