Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, and Johnathan Abram have been asked by Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock to be more than rookies during their first season NFL season. They want the trio of first round picks to contribute right away, and they consider themselves “first-year” players; however, they’re still relishing the rookie moments.
First, they experienced what it was like to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Next, they participated in their first training camp and preseason action. But Monday night against the Denver Broncos was different.
Rookies experience all sorts of emotions before their first NFL game, and while it may shock you, the trio were only focused on the game plan, but they’ll never forget what it was like running out of the tunnel to the roar of Raider Nation.
“I can’t lie, I can’t describe it,” Abram told the media postgame. “It was amazing.”
Abram continued, “I couldn’t put this picture into my head. To go out there and see the fans, them coming out on Monday night. My teammates, being out there with those guys, it was amazing.”
“That was a special, special moment for me, man,” Ferrell added. “It was everything that I wanted and expected; the trash talk, the grit, the fun, the fans, the good and the bad plays. I loved it. It couldn’t have been a better debut for me — not as far as I feel like I had the best game, but I just feel like I got the full range experience of what it’s like being a player in this league.”
Raider Nation has embraced the trio with open arms, and I think they were impressed with what the first-round picks put forth in Monday’s 24-16 win.
Offensively, Jacobs led the way totaling 113 yards from scrimmaged and two touchdowns, a feat that no other rookie running back has done in an NFL debut since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 — take a second to grasp that.
As expected, Abram was flying around the field like a bat out of hell, putting several jarring hits on film throughout the evening. He finished the night with five tackles and one pass defensed. Ferrell joined in the fun with a pass defensed of his own, in addition to his three tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss.
Getting your first carry, reception, tackle, or sack can feel like a burden until it happens, but once it’s behind you it’s full steam ahead.
“Hell yeah,” Ferrell said when asked if he felt relieved to have his first NFL sack out of the way. “Felt like a big ole monkey off my back, dawg, for real. Not because I feel pressure, but it was just about, as a defensive lineman you’re always thinking about when you’re going to get your first sack. Especially in this league because they’re so hard to come by, and for it to come in my debut, man, it felt amazing. Truly a blessing and hats off to my team because they’re the ones that put me in that position for sure.”
Collectively, the first-year players felt like they could’ve had better games than they did, feeling like they left a lot on the field, but they’re thrilled to have their first win under their belt — and against a division rival no less.
“Honestly, if you want me to be honest with you, I feel like I left a lot of yards on the table,” Jacobs said critically. “So, I mean it feels good because I’d rather win — regardless of the yards — but me personally I know I left a lot of yards on the table. So, that’s my biggest focus when I watch film and coming back in tomorrow. Just focusing on taking everything that’s given to me.”
Tonight, Jacobs, Ferrell, and Abram will go home and celebrate, as they should, but tomorrow will be the start of a new day with a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs just six days away. It’s on to the next game, but the memories made on their NFL debuts will live on forever.
Check out photos from the Raiders' first regular season matchup with the Denver Broncos at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.