With Marquel Lee Out, Nicholas Morrow Gets His Chance Versus the Chargers

After suffering an ankle injury in Week 5 versus the Ravens, the Oakland Raiders finds themselves without its best linebacker against the run in Marquel Lee. The rookie from Wake Forest has been graded out at 82.8 against the run per ProFootballFocus.com so far on the season. This could become a very serious issue for the Raiders as they come up against Melvin Gordon on Sunday. Gordon struggled to begin the season but put together 105 yards on the ground in Week 5 against the Giants. Gordon and the Chargers will certainly look to carry that momentum into Week 6 against the Raiders as Oakland ranks 25th in the NFL in run defense.

Enter Nicholas Morrow. Morrow has seen limited playing time this season behind Cory James and Lee. Morrow, who is known for his coverage abilities, is a 215 pound linebacker that ran an impressive 4.52 40 on his pro day. This speed shows as he is currently ranked as Oakland’s top inside linebacker at defending the pass grading out at 77.7 per ProFootballFocus.com.

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Now this matchup favors Morrow’s strengths as he will likely be asked to blanket two very good Chargers tight ends in Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates. Henry and Gates Plagued Oakland’s secondary last season, racking up 153 receiving yards and three touchdowns combined against Oakland in their two meetings. While the secondary will have its hands full guarding the Chargers’ tall and talented wide receivers, it would help Oakland’s defense tremendously to have a man to take away the inside threat.

Watching Morrow’s film shows that he tends to get caught up with blockers on running plays, but shows a quick burst when free and a very good open field tackler. His lack of size inhibits him from easily shedding blocks from bigger tight ends and linemen, but his speed can be used to beat blockers to the point of attack.

Morrow has a golden opportunity this week to make a case for more playing time as the season progresses. And with veteran Sean Smith struggling in coverage, now is the time to seize the moment and build his own reputation to help begin to fix a struggling Oakland defense.

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Gabriel Martin

GoMorrow#50! Closing speed😉