Raiders DC: Johnathan Abram 'wise beyond his years'

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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Raiders rookie safety Johnathan Abram is quickly building a reputation for being a talker. The more he plays, the more those on his team appreciate what he's saying.

"I just think he's wise beyond his years," Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said, per Josh Dubow of the Associated Press. "He doesn't act like a rookie. When he's out there, he sounds like a seven or eight-year vet. I think the players take notice of that. Just how he prepares, how he studies, how he communicates with the guys on and off the field. The thing is not too big for him. The players see that. He doesn't act like your typical rookie."

It didn't take long for Abram to emerge as the Raiders' starting strong safety. Based on comments from his teammates and his behavior on "Hard Knocks," he made himself comfortable in a new locker room just as quickly. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict said Abram has even established himself as one of the defensive leaders.

"Sometimes we got to tell him to shut up in the huddle but other than that, yeah, he backs it up," Burfict said. "So, you can talk as much as you want as long as you back it up."

Abram has seemingly done that in his preseason cameos. It hasn't been a surprise for the Raiders, who drafted him No. 27 overall this past April and proceeded to give the newcomer No. 24, which had been worn by Charles Woodson and Hall of Famer Willie Brown. The former has already made it a point to advise Abram, encouraging him to be himself while understanding that his personality and play will need to go hand in hand.

"I told him, 'that edge you have, man, don't lose it,'" Woodson said. "There's a lot of people with a lot of opinions of him right now. Don't lose that edge. Because if you start doing what other people want you to do, then you can never be who you're supposed to be.

"I like the confidence. But the end of the day it's what he does out there between the lines. You've got to bring the game with the talk and the braggadocio, and I don't have a problem with that. As long as you're out there making plays, you can say whatever you want to say."

Woodson, who switched from cornerback to safety late in his career, is the last Raiders defensive back to earn an All-Pro selection -- he made second team in 2015, his final season. If Abram performs at the level he talks, that drought could end soon.
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