'Hunting dog' NaVorro Bowman sparking Raiders' defense

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman had a quick conversation with his new quarterback prior to Thursday night's white-knuckle victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

"You handle that 'O,'" Bowman told Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders' oft-misfiring offense, "and I'm going to get this defense right."

Everyone needs a goal, right?

Even if Bowman had only joined the Raiders three days prior to the game. And while Oakland's defense is still a work in progress, and Bowman, who has suffered significant injuries to his left knee and left Achilles the past three years, may be a step slow in covering running backs and tight ends, he did provide a much-needed spark to Oakland's defense.

And he did it by playing 60 of 62 snaps on defense. And he had a game-high 11 tackles. While wearing the "green dot" communications helmet.

We mentioned Bowman joined the Raiders some 72 hours earlier, yes?

"I just absolutely love the football player in him," said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. "He's a hunting dog. He loves to play. He brought experience during the week. He was a settling influence, kind of a determined influence on the sideline.

"I thought he did a remarkable job. Really happy to have him and glad that he stepped in and did such a nice job."

Khalil Mack said Bowman will help the Raiders, who ended their four-game losing streak to improve to 3-4, in their push back to playoff relevance.

"Adding a guy like that with so much experience, especially down the stretch, having the late experience in games and knowing the situations," Mack said, "it can change the game, as you could kind of tell."

Added Carr: "Awesome teammate. Oh, my goodness, I love him. He literally stays the same all the time. I didn't know what to expect. He's one of the best middle linebackers to ever play this game. You don't know if he's going to come in screaming, yelling, whatever. He is the same dude all the time throughout the game. Really the best way to describe him is he's on a mission. ... He's just on a mission to dominate. As a young player watching him, it's very encouraging, and it helps me.

"What determination. The vibe off him, you can feel it. It's definitely nice having him on our team."

Bowman said he put in 40 hours studying after signing.

Part of the payoff? He had one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit when he absolutely blasted former San Francisco 49ers teammate Alex Smith. Bowman smiled and said he felt "bad" for hitting Smith because, "That's my guy."

Alas, that's the game.

"I live behind the line of scrimmage," Bowman said matter-of-factly.

"I'm a linebacker, and to be a great one, you have to be an assassin out there. You have to be quiet. You have to get low and go hunt."