After a few disastrous seasons, the Las Vegas Raiders are starting over on defense. They fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and handed the keys to Gus Bradley. The two coaches are very different so it should be interesting to see how the team’s defense changes in 2021.
A player who could benefit in a big way is Johnathan Abram. Bradley has had great success with safeties of a similar skill set. The ongoing assumption has been that Abram’s role will see him playing as a box safety in the new scheme and he was finally able to confirm that. He also gave his thoughts on the new role.
“Things are going pretty good,” Abram said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m going to what they call the box safety, the strong safety. It’s interesting going from what we went to last year playing a lot of split-safety and playing high. This is gonna be more suitable to my talents and my strengths. So, I look forward to this year and just getting to come back each day for OTAs, finishing up strong with minicamp and then coming back for training camp and just trying to get everything down pat.”
In the past, Bradley has developed Kam Chancellor and Derwin James into superstars in the same role he’s going to have Abram play. The young defensive back is talented and eager to improve. Perhaps putting him closer to the line of scrimmage and not in coverage as often will be exactly what he needs to unlock his potential.
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Maxx Crosby Updates Health
One of the few players who has played well over the last couple of years is defensive end Maxx Crosby. He’s notched 17 sacks in his first two seasons, which is no small feat considering how little helps he’s had on the defensive line. He also dealt with a litany of serious injuries during the year. He revealed that he’s not quite 100% yet but is getting there.
“I’m very, very close,” Crosby said Wednesday. “I’m able to do everything. The good thing is we have time, so I’ve just been rehabbing every day, getting right, getting stronger and just getting ready for the season.”
Crosby is a warrior but he’d be a lot more effective if he was healthy. The Raiders should keep an eye on him and ensure he doesn’t push his body too hard in the offseason.
Raiders Almost Had Full House on Wednesday
Earlier in the offseason, the Raiders players revealed that they’d be skipping OTAs in solidarity with the NFLPA. It appears the players changed their minds rather quickly. According to Tashan Reed of The Athletic, the majority of the team’s roster was there. The only notable players missing were Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Josh Jacobs.
It’s unclear why those three weren’t in attendance but there’s no reason to worry. There’s been no chatter of any of them being disgruntled. OTAs aren’t necessarily the most important practices to attend but it would be good for those three to show up, especially Ngakoue and Jefferson as they are new to the team.