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Abram Wears Right Shoes to Green Bay

New Green Bay Packers safety Johnathan Abram has a big shoe collection. He had the right shoes for the occasion when he was claimed off waivers on Wednesday.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – When you have a lot of shoes, chances are you have the right pair for every occasion.

So it is for new Green Bay Packers safety Johnathan Abram.

Once upon a time, Abram had about 700 pair of shoes. With a Nike sponsorship, he’s “slimmed up a little bit” by banishing some other brands from his collection. Still, he has a lot of shoes. When the Packers claimed him off waivers from the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, he had about an hour-and-a-half to catch his flight to Green Bay.

So, he packed a bag and grabbed the appropriate pair of sneakers.

Black and green Nike Jordans designed by Art Basel. They weren’t inexpensive. Only 223 pair were made; he owns No. 136.

“I had to come in style,” Abram said.

Abram said he has a “room dedicated to shoes” to store his collection.

“It’s a big room,” he said.

Abram’s a collector but the shoes aren’t meant to be stored in boxes forever.

“I try to wear everything,” he said. “I wear something new every day.”

Abram arrived to a Green Bay locker room filled with familiar faces. At Mississippi State, he played with offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins and running back Kylin Hill. With the Raiders, he played with defensive backs Keisean Nixon and Dallin Leavitt. He played for Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, too.

Abram and Nixon are especially close.

“That’s one of my best friends,” Abram said. “I’m excited to be back here with him. We don’t plan on enjoying the cold, but we’re going to make the most out of it together. Probably going to make some snow angels or something.”

They got matching shark tattoos two years ago.

“Because sharks, the motto is, on Mondays, sharks don't wake up and say it's Monday. They wake up and just eat.”

Abram was the Raiders’ first-round pick in 2019, the second safety off the board behind Green Bay’s Darnell Savage. He missed almost all of his rookie season due to injury, then started all 27 appearances in 2020 and 2021. He started the first six games of this season, too, before playing off the bench the last two games.

The Raiders released him on Tuesday.

“I’m excited,” Abram said. “It’s an unfortunate situation having to up and move in the middle of the season, but I look forward to the new start. The guys have embraced me. The coaching staff has embraced me. It’s been nothing but welcome and love, so I look forward to it.”

While Abram’s career hit a disappointing dead end with the Raiders, the Packers pounced on waivers to get a 26-year-old player with 34 starts, 255 tackles and three interceptions under his belt.

“That was exciting news,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “We got him here today. Big, fast, explosive guy. He’s played a lot of football.”

Through his two seasons, Barry has talked about the possibility of Savage moving into the slot. What prevented that was the lack of reliable safety depth. Henry Black, an undrafted free agent, was the top backup in 2021. The man who was supposed to be the No. 3 safety in 2022, Vernon Scott, has spent the season on injured reserve.

Perhaps Abram, once he learns Barry’s scheme, could move into the lineup at safety so Savage can move to nickel.

“It won’t be difficult at all” to learn the playbook,” Abram said. “It’s a lot of carryover from the previous system that I’ve had. It’s just more so terminology and applying it to the system that I’m in now.”

That Abram failed to even get through his rookie contract, it would be hard to label his career as anything but a disappointment. But he’s young and there’s time for him to reach his immense potential. At this point in a player’s career, draft reports still matter. Perhaps these final eight games, with a new team and a new scheme and new teammates, will be just what he needs.

“I don’t have anything to prove,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of football – a lot of good football – and people around the league notice that, which is kind of why I’m here today. I’m just happy for the opportunity.”

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