Raiders’ Ferrell refuses to be thought of as a rookie
NAPA — Clelin Ferrell has stricken the word “rookie” from his vocabulary.
“They didn’t bring us in here to be no rookie,” the defensive end said Monday following the Raiders’ first padded practice of training camp. “Rookie can get a connotation of, sit back, wait your turn. You don’t got to stop out in front and show that you want to play.”
Ferrell, the No. 4 pick out of Clemson, has earned rave reviews for his confident, assertive nature since the day he arrived. Same goes for safety Johnathan Abram, who like Ferrell is expected to be an instant starter and contributor to one of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2018.
But all the maturity in the world won’t help without being strong and athletic enough to win one-on-one battles, something Ferrell, Abram and the rest of the Raiders got to do for the first time in 2019 on Monday.
“I would say it’s just OK from my standards, man,” Ferrell said. “The biggest thing for me is I’ve got to get my special teams stuff down. That’s one of the most important parts of the game. Definitely going to get in my book tonight, come back tomorrow and learn.”
That’s a veteran move, giving special teams its props with the media. It’s something both Ferrell and Abram have throughout the offseason, giving respect to veterans while not cowering in their wake.
“They’re leaders. I don’t remember any type of rookie coming in and talking as much as they do — even getting into other players’ heads,” linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.
Ferrell has played mostly at right end, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said he’s been everything they expected. Guenther also doesn’t rule out using Ferrell on the inside occasionally in passing situations depending on the progress of outside rushers such as Arden Key and Maxx Crosby.
During one pass rush drill Monday, Ferrell found himself completely stonewalled by second-year tackle Kolton Miller, although he recovered on a later repetition and displayed an ability to bend and get to the corner — an area which some draft analysts thought he was deficient.
Abram, playing safety along with Karl Joseph with Lamarcus Joyner in the slot, has shown no signs of hesitation brought about by uncertainty. Ferrell praised Abram’s football intellect as well as his aggression between the lines.
“He don’t take no stuff from nobody,” Ferrell said. “He’s not afraid to speak his mind, even though it be crazy coming out of his mouth.”
Brandon Marshall, the outside linebacker signed in free agency from Denver, said, “I’ve been around a lot of first-round picks and they’re not as mature, don’t work as hard, they don’t study as hard, and they don’t have that same demeanor and mindset of these rookies.”
Ferrell, who prefers the designation “first-year-player” to rookie, said he looks at veteran players as big brothers.
“They know what it takes to be in this league or they wouldn’t be here,” Ferrell said. “Then again, I’m not a guy that’s going accept wrong … I’m just a guy that holds people accountable, and people hold me accountable. If I see something wrong, I’m going to say something.”
Notes from Day 3, the first day in pads: