The Oakland Raiders are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Although within that youth lies great potential, there also can be great difficulty.
Growing up and reaching full potential is no easy task for any person, let alone a team. With strong influence and leadership, a young team can become a great team.
Head coach Jon Gruden is hoping that safety Lamarcus Joyner will be that leader for the young Raiders defense. With six of the team’s nine draft picks being used for the defense, Joyner will have his hands full.
However, Joyner has been a rookie in this league before and is happy to provide a leadership role that he feels he did not have, via Kyle Martin of Raiders.com:
“That’s a great responsibility for me,” he said. “I think it’s a great feeling because the guys that I had before me when I first walked into this league that I wished and hoped to have to look up to, they didn’t do a good job. So, I always told myself if I was ever put in that position to be entrusted with younger guys I’d be the best leader possible.”
Joyner was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the then St. Louis Rams. He joined a Rams team that was going nowhere fast and finished with a 6-10 record, their eighth losing season in a row.
However, after a swift culture change, much like the Raiders ongoing one, the Rams’ fortunes changed. Joyner and the Rams made it to the Super Bowl last year, an experience that will be vital for the Raiders. Joyner knows how to get to February and hopefully can help the Raiders get there.
In particular, Joyner will be a great mentor for rookie safety Johnathan Abram. Abram has reportedly been a standout throughout training camp, but still needs to refine his game. Joyner complimented Abram’s tenacity earlier this offseason.
It does appear that Gruden is putting more than a little pressure on Joyner to be the leader the Raiders need. Joyner shared that if he seems to be acting differently at all, Gruden will get on him right away. The veteran safety has stated he is putting himself aside and working as hard as he can to be an example for others.