With training camp just around the corner, second-year linebacker Miles Burris has a big hill to climb if he hopes to be a contributor for the Oakland Raiders in 2013.
After undergoing knee surgery in January, Burris has spent the last five months sidelined by rehab, missing OTAs and mandatory minicamp in the process. Although he’s expected to be ready for training camp, the 2012 fourth-round pick has been forced to watch offseason additions take over all three starting linebacker spots for the Raiders.
With Burris out of the picture, newcomers Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett and 2013 third-rounder Sio Moore have taken over as the starters in Oakland. That doesn’t mean that the Raiders see Burris solely as a backup heading into 2013, though.
“We just went out and signed three new linebackers, but we have Miles Burris, who we think is a starting-caliber linebacker,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said this offseason before the drafting of Moore. “So now we feel like we have four starting-caliber linebackers. That, one, makes us better from a competition standpoint. All of those guys are going to compete for an opportunity to play. And it makes us better from a depth standpoint…”
On top of his knee surgery, Burris also has his 2012 performance hindering his chances of stealing a starting job this upcoming season.
While starting all 16 games for the Raiders, Burris struggled mightily in just about every department. Finishing dead last in Pro Football Focus’ 4-3 outside linebacker rankings, the San Diego State product missed 20 tackles on the season while also proving to be a liability in coverage. Although he showed some promise as a pass rusher, Burris was a sore thumb for an already-weak Raiders defense.
To make matters worse, Burris hasn’t had any time this offseason to work on the unpolished aspects of his game. His first opportunity should be during training camp, but he’ll already be behind the curve at that point.
All signs point to Burris seeing a reduced role during his sophomore campaign. That, however, doesn’t mean that he can’t earn back his starting job eventually, especially if Roach or Moore struggle early.
Training camp will give us a better idea of where Burris’ development is heading into his second season with the Raiders. Until then, let the healing process continue.