NaVorro Bowman adding much-needed presence to Raiders defense - The Buffalo News

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NaVorro Bowman adding much-needed presence to Raiders defense

When the 49ers released NaVorro Bowman two weeks ago, the Raiders pounced on the opportunity to add him to their defense, and the former superstar is already making a positive impact on his new team.

As is the case with most linebackers, as Bowman has aged, he's lost some of his coverage ability but has maintained quality play against the run.

In 2015, his run-stopping grade was the fourth-best among 60 qualifying inside linebackers. Last year, he only played 251 snaps but finished with the 13th-best run-stopping defense among all inside linebackers in the NFL.

After a -2.3 run-stopping grade in his first three games of 2017, he received a +0.9 run-defense grade in Week Four, and a +0.3 grade in that area in Week Five.

In his debut for the Raiders against the Chiefs on "Thursday Night Football" in Week Seven, Bowman was given a +1.1 overall grade and a +0.9 grade against the run. He made nine total tackles (eight solo, one assisted) and four "stops." It was an solid first game with Oakland for the veteran.

Despite his limited time with the Raiders, he's already been assigned the play-caller of the defense, and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. discussed Bowman in that role.

NaVorro is a seasoned veteran. He's an All-Pro a few times over. So he understands the game. It's just a matter of him getting our terminology, which for him as been no problem. He's smooth, he's smart and he's a playmaker. He brings a calmness to the huddle we haven't seen.

Oakland's other inside linebackers, Cory James (-1.6), Nicholas Morrow (-3.8), Marquel Lee (+2.4) Xavier Woodson-Luster (-0.7) have combined for an overall PFF grade of -3.7 thus far in the 2017 season.

The 29-year-old Bowman may not be the outstanding coverage linebacker he was during his prime with the 49ers, yet he does have value diagnosing and stopping run plays.

(Grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus)

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