Football

Training camp standout: Here’s why some Raiders are calling Johnathan Abram a ‘bulldog’

Oakland Raiders rookie safety Johnathan Abram is making a believer out of linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall.

Even Burfict had some flashbacks just looking at Abram, and said he reminds him of himself.

“He talks a little bit more than me,” Burfict said Monday. “Sometimes I got to tell him to shut up in the huddle. He backs it up. You can talk as much as you want as long as you back it up, and he has to start catching his picks. He said it’s $1,000 for every pick he drops, and so right now he has $2,000 in the pot.”

Abram was selected in the first round (26th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. He starred for Mississippi State and finished with 99 tackles last season with two interceptions and two sacks.

Marshall said Abram will be a “great” player in the NFL.

“He’s a ball hog and has a nose for the ball and I know he can hit and is fast and smart. He’s picking up the defense extremely fast. He’s playing at a high level right now at camp. I am looking forward to big things from John.”

Abram was nicknamed “Bulldog” by Raiders special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, rookie defense end Clelin Ferrell said.

Ferrell was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

“Bulldog been great,” Ferrell said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t take no stuff from anybody. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, even though some of the things that comes out of his mouth is crazy. People think because he has that country voice from Mississippi people think he’s not smart, but John is one of the smartest people when he walks out on the field.”

Burfict revealed that he had to remind Abram to remember they’re all on the same team.

“Abram is so aggressive, sometimes I have to tell him, ‘You got to hold it back a little,’” Burfict said. “He keeps ragging that when the (Los Angeles) Rams come in, he doesn’t care.”

The Raiders and Rams will practice together Aug. 6-7 before they meet in a preseason game at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland on Aug. 10.

Maurice Hurst Jr. on the rookies

Second-year Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. was productive last season, finishing with 31 tackles and a team-high four sacks in 13 games.

Hurst has looked at the rookies and credits Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock for bringing in quality players.

“I see some guys that have been at some great programs,” Hurst said. “Those guys are really intelligent and I think that is what Mayock was saying he was going to bring in guys who are going to change the culture. Those are the guys that are definitely going to change the culture and great players for years to come.”

Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.
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