The first time NaVorro Bowman saw the Kansas City Chiefs this season, he had only been a member of the Oakland Raiders for three days.
Then he led all players with 11 tackles, including one for a loss, in playing 60 of 62 snaps while wearing the green dot communication helmet in the Raiders’ epic 31-30 victory on Oct. 19.
He has helped settle things in the middle of an oft-porous defense and, entering last week’s game against the New York Giants, Bowman was allowing one reception every 15.3 cheap nfl jerseys cover snaps, the second-best rate among inside linebackers, per Pro Football Focus.
Then he recovered the fumble caused by Bruce Irvin’s strip-sack of Geno Smith, a week after getting the Raiders’ first, and thus far only, interception of the season. Bowman is rounding into shape nicely for the Raiders as they prepare for an AFC West battle in Kansas City on Sunday.
“Any time I see the ball,” Bowman said with a smile, “I’ve got to go get it.”
Then he gave the football to Irvin.
“No. 1, a great professional,” said Raiders assistant coach/defense John Pagano. “How he takes pride every day and his preparation. How he just learns the offense and his study and understanding. Just the growth that he’s done since that first week to now of really learning new languages, new how-you-say certain things. But it’s been outstanding.
“He’s such a pro to be around. Comes to work with the right mindset every day for the younger players to be able to see a veteran like that and how he works.”
Having joined the Raiders in Week 7, his 52 tackles in six games rank sixth on the team, and both of his takeaways have come in Raiders territory. The interception against the Denver Broncos’ Paxton Lynch was in the end zone on a ball he initially batted before Reggie Nelson knocked it back to him as he was on his back on the ground.
The Raiders then went on an 80-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead.
The fumble recovery against the Giants was at the 31-yard line, and Oakland turned it into a field goal and a 10-7 lead.
“It’s obvious,” Irvin said of Bowman’s influence. “The guy flies around, takes control of the huddle. You see it, you see the difference from when he wasn’t here and how our defense performed to now. He’s a great competitor, a great leader. I’m just happy to have him.”
And Bowman, in turn, is happy to be in Oakland after seven-plus years with the San Francisco 49ers.
“We’re feeling good,” he said. “We want to continue stacking these wins. I understand that we have a shot.
“That’s just what it has to become, a team effort, everybody understanding we need all of those guys at all times.”