When Aaron Curry went out during Raiders OTA's this offseason, rookie Miles Burris stepped in as the starting weakside linebacker... and that's where he's remained ever since. Curry has had a knee injury that has kept him out all of mini camps and now all of training camp. And the outlook is not positive.
I asked Dennis Allen if he knew whether Curry would be available for the opener and he had this to say:
"We're getting closer to that point." Said Allen. "I don't know exactly where that is. Obviously he was not the same healthy Aaron Curry that we saw on tape last year. We're trying to do everything we can to give him a chance to get healthy so he can be out there opening night. We're getting closer to that point where that might not be a possibility but it's not there yet."
Curry is still seeing a specialist in Los Angeles and the team should know later today whether he what his status is.
In Curry's stead, Miles Burris has played well at times in practice. But Allen continues to preach consistency with his players and Burris is no exception.
"I want to see him put one play after another, positive play, and eliminate some of the young mistakes he's still making," said Allen. "Every day he goes out there is still a growth process for him. The good thing is you can see improvement and correcting some of the things he might have made a mistake on before. He gets them corrected. He still has a long way to go. I'm hoping to see a little bit more consistency out of him."
That consistency issue is something this young linebacker has been working very hard to rectify. But as a rookie, a bit of erratic play is expected. The team is giving him every chance to show them he can be a starter and he is working hard to show them he is worthy.
"I'm just getting physically and mentally ready before every practice," said Burris. "Getting myself some extra time just to be ready for it. Expect to grind but also expect to try to keep myself mentally prepare for every play, even when I get tired.
"I think I just have to go prove them right for picking me. And, you know, playing the way that I play the game, and that's as hard as I can play, and try to make plays and be consistent like coach Allen talked about and just prove that I can play in the NFL and run with anybody."
Burris has been soaking in the time he has had working with the first team and has been preparing for his Raider debut which will happen on Monday. Most of the starters won't get a lot of time although it seems possible they could leave Burris in the game a bit longer to get a better look at him in a game situation.
How Burris plays Monday should go long way toward the team deciding whether to add a free agent linebacker either to start or as insurance. Curry is already a concern, but if Burris can step up, the team would feel pretty good about making him the starter in the very probable likelihood Curry is not ready for the opener. Or even if Curry is not available at all.