Optimism dwindling of Miles Burris return to practice

Thearon W. Henderson

Hope of the return of Miles Burris, who has been out all off-season following a January knee surgery, is in short supply.

It is becoming apparent that the projected return of Burris is very much to be determined. One might even say indefinite or nowhere in sight. The length of time Burris has been out has become quite concerning.

Burris played all 16 games last season for the Raiders. That wasn't the initial intention for the fourth round rookie but that was the situation the team was in.

It is an oddly familiar situation for Miles Burris although this time last year, he was on the opposite end of things. The team had Aaron Curry pegged as the starter but Curry couldn't get on the field due to mysterious knee issues. Curry, like Burris, wasn't healing as expected from an off-season knee surgery. Burris stepped up as first team linebacker in camp and when Curry was placed on partial season injured reserve, Burris kept the job.

Now Burris is not healed from an off-season knee surgery and his starting job has been usurped by a rookie - Sio Moore.

The surgery Burris had was way back in January. His absence from OTA's and minicamp didn't raise much concern, but he was fully expected to be ready to go once training camp started. He wasn't ready and after five days in, there is no return in sight.

Dennis Allen is sounding less and less optimistic as each day passes with his second year linebacker on the sideline. He had been asked about it several times and didn't say much until today.

"You know, I don't foresee him being out here in the next few days," said Allen. "Hopefully we'll be able to get him out here soon."

That may not seem like doom and gloom but in a training camp in which he has been tight lipped about injuries, that is pretty telling.

An example would be Kaluka Maiava, who was on crutches in a walking boot a couple days ago, Allen initially said he there was nothing to worry about. The next day he downgraded it to saying he would "miss a little time." Based on what I saw, "a little time" could be much of camp and the preseason.

The Raiders were counting on Burris to be able to move around and play both inside and outside linebacker. He is falling behind and with the already considerable time on the shelf, it wouldn't be a stretch to see the possibility of this lasting into the season for him. Granted, it's still early, but that's what we all thought in minicamp. In the scope of an entire off-season, it's plenty late.

Sio Moore has the starting weakside linebacker spot locked up and the team was forced to sign Omar Gaither to backup at middle linebacker. The funny thing is, Burris and Gaither shared the field for the Raiders at the end of last season. Gaither was not brought back initially and Burris remained on the team and yet Gaither returned to practice with the team before Burris.

If Burris doesn't come back soon, he could be shelved in favor of one of the hungry linebackers who ARE able to practice with the team. Most notably last year's reserve linebackers and special teams players, Kaelin Burnett and Keenan Clayton.

Being the team's fourth round pick doesn't guarantee him anything. The Raiders have proven already that they show no loyalty to a player based on his being drafted by the team. None of the players drafted around Burris last year are getting preferential treatment either. Third round pick Tony Bergstrom has been sitting behind Lucas Nix at left guard and both fifth round picks Jack Crawford and Juron Criner were inactive for many games last season.

No telling when or if Burris will be able to practice for the first time. Promising left a long time ago and hoping is slipping by as well.

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