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Graney: Duron Harmon’s leadership what Raiders defense needs

He is the substance to much of the sizzle, an offseason signing of the Raiders with a pretty clear mandate.

Duron Harmon is one of those veterans others gravitate toward. One of those experienced players —he’s in a 10th season now — a new coaching staff can rely on.

He’s an unselfish leader. You can’t have enough of them.

His nickname is “The Closer” for his ability to come up with late, game-sealing interceptions.

You really can’t have enough of those guys.

Harmon is yet another with ties to the Patriots, a safety who was with new Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels in New England.

Won three Super Bowls. Learned from the best on what it takes to win.

He has also helped to shape a Raiders secondary in need of such tutoring, the one younger minds can learn from by watching and asking questions and, well, listening.

‘Dependable guy’

“First of all, Duron’s a good player,” McDaniels said. “He’s played at a high level for a long time. Been a very dependable guy and does a tremendous job of preparing his body. And if you watch him go about his business, if I was a young player, I would really take note of the things he does.”

Things, the coach said, like taking advantage of pre- and post-practice periods in the cold tub, of extra meeting time, of anything that might help ready himself for another day’s work. That stuff rubs off on others.

It needs to, for sure, on fourth-year strong safety Johnathan Abram.

Abram was among three first-round draft picks from the 2019 class (running back Josh Jacobs and defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell were the other two) whom the team declined to exercise fifth-year options.

Not a surprise. Abram has struggled with performance and injuries. He was guaranteed $7.9 million had the Raiders picked up his option. Way too pricey at this point.

He now has this season to show how much he is really worth as a player.

There is also second-year free safety Tre’von Moehrig. He enjoyed a successful rookie season, ranked as the league’s 23rd-best safety by Pro Football Focus. Played nearly every snap. But he too could benefit from a whole lot of Harmon’s advice.

“I’m not going to not help them because I’m competing against them,” said Harmon, who has collected 21 career interceptions along with 300 tackles. “I want our room to be filled with people who cheer each other on regardless of who is out there because at the end of the day we have a talented room.

“It’s my job to bring everybody — not just my job, but the room’s job — to elevate the level of play, to compete against each other and at the same time create a true brotherhood where we are competing and rooting for each other.”

He has seen the worst of times (having played for Detroit in 2020 and starting all 17 games for Atlanta last year) and the best of times (having been with the Patriots from 2013-19). He signed with the Raiders for, among other reasons, a familiarity with management and a coaching staff that also includes former Patriots assistant (of course) and now Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

No resting

Maxx Crosby is a top defensive end for the Raiders who talked this week about his offseason regimen, that it seems as if you’re still working every day, that you’re training 11 of out 12 months to reach such an elite status.

Then he questioned Harmon about a certain player.

“I’m asking him like, ‘How does (Tom) Brady work and what are the things he does that’s been able to do it for so long?’” Crosby said. “And he said that when he first got to New England, Brady told him, ‘There’s no such thing as an offseason.’”

So make that 12 out of 12 months.

More counsel from Duron Harmon.

You can’t get enough of it.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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