Although the Oakland Raiders were able to get the 2019 NFL season off to a promising start with a win over the Denver Broncos, it appears they will have some pressing concerns in the secondary moving forward.
Rookie safety Johnathan Abram played an integral role in the Raiders 24-16 victory over the Broncos in Week 1. There was little indication that he had sustained any sort of injury during the game.
It has since been revealed that the rookie hurt his shoulder in the season opener. Unfortunately, it seems that the injury was worse than they initially thought.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden confirmed the unfortunate news after Wednesday’s practice that Abram will be placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn rotator cuff and labrum against Denver and will be undergoing surgery on Thursday, via Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com:
“I did not know this at the time of our press conference yesterday, but John Abram is on injured reserve,” Head Coach Jon Gruden announced Wednesday. “He hurt his shoulder. Big blow to our team”
“He [Abram] is everything as advertised,” Gruden explained. “He’d probably play this week if we let him, but he’s going to have surgery, I think, tomorrow, and we’re just keeping him in our thoughts and prayers, and we’re going to miss him, no doubt.”
The news of Abram’s injury certainly deals a crushing blow to the Raiders’ defense as he was expected to be a big contributor in the secondary.
Reports suggest that Abram had sustained the injuries at some point in the first quarter. He was still able to somehow finish the game with five tackles and a pass breakup. It also appears that the roles have now been switched after he accidentally dealt a blow to cornerback Gareon Conley that resulted in a head/neck injury. Fortunately, Conley has since been able to make his return to practice and the Raiders are optimistic about his status for Week 2.
Abram is among the trio of first-rounders that Oakland cashed in on during the 2019 NFL Draft and he wasted no time in making his presence felt throughout training camp and the preseason. He showed plenty of promise as a leader in the secondary and there should no longer be any questions about his toughness, especially after this story from quarterback Derek Carr:
“It hurts, man,” Derek Carr added. “That sucks, man, because you see someone – all he was talking about before the game was, ‘I’ve waited my whole life for this. I’ve waited my whole life for this.’ He said, ‘forget college, I’ve waited my whole life for this moment.’ And for him to go out there, and hurt it when he did, and to continue to play, he said, ‘yeah, I just started hitting people with my other shoulder,’ and that right there shows you what kind of man he is. He’s a grown man. He’s a Raider. And he’s our Raider.”
While the Raiders still have yet to determine his replacement, it looks as though safety Curtis Riley may have the edge after filling in for Abram at times in Week 1. Regardless, it seems they will be doing their due diligence to determine their personnel in the secondary.
The prospect of both Abram and Conley being out for their Week 2 matchup would leave some rather notable voids over the top. The timing of their injuries is hardly ideal with the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town to gain a head start on defending their AFC West crown.