Rookie Miles Burris has worked with the first-team defense at weak-side linebacker from the outset of training camp as a result of a knee injury suffered by incumbent starter Aaron Curry. Coach Dennis Allen conceded that it’s reaching the point where the Raiders no longer can wait for Curry.
Curry flew to Los Angeles for a second opinion on his knee. Allen said he expects to receive an update on Curry’s status later today.
In the interim, it’s full steam ahead for Burris, who is slated to start Oakland’s exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. At this point, it’s not a stretch to envision Burris the starter for the regular-season opener one month from today.
“We’re getting closer to that point,” Allen said of Curry needing to be at practice if he hopes to play Sept. 11. “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.”
Burris said he is trying to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity, while not thinking too far down the road.
“I know it’s a big deal,” Burris said of his being in the spotlight, “but I just got to take it one play at a time, one play at a time every play. I don’t let my mind go through how surreal it is or that I’ve arrived, because I haven’t. I haven’t played a play yet. I’ve got to go get it done and prove a lot of things.”
Allen said he’s looking for one thing, in particular, from Burris in practice and games: consistency.
“I want to see him put one play after another, positive play, and eliminate some of the young mistakes he’s still making,” Allen said. “Every day he goes out there is still a growth process for him.
“The good thing is, you can see improvement and (him) 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.”
Burris said middle linebacker Rolando McClain has helped a great deal in expediting his learning curve.
“He’s got a really smart football mind,” Burris said. “He keeps his communication going with me a whole bunch and helps me get in the right place a lot of the time. Just talking on things.
“A lot of times, we’re going to have to work together on certain man coverages or this that and the other. He’s done a great job out on the field there with me, and I let him know, ‘Hey, thanks, man, I appreciate that.’ ”
— Punter Shane Lechler (knee), wide receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Eddie McGee (hamstring), running backs Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Mike Goodson (neck), Curry, tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder) and offensive lineman Zach Hurd (head) did not practice Saturday.
Allen said there aren’t any significant updates on any of those players, other than Myers. Tests on Myers’ shoulder returned negative, Allen said.
“That’s one of the few times you ever hear ‘negative’ and think it’s good,” Allen said. “But that was a good thing. He’s a little sore today. We’ll evaluate him the next couple of days and see where he’s at come game day.”
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee), defensive end Jack Crawford (foot) and strong safety Tyvon Branch (back) returned to practice.
— Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden attended a Raiders practice in Napa for the first time in 11 years, when he last coached the Raiders.
He was here as part of his prepartion for broadcasting Monday night’s Raiders-Cowboys game. Gruden made the rounds with the familiar faces from his four years here as coach (1998-2001), chatted at length with general manager Reggie McKenzie, Allen and former Raiders coach Tom Flores throughout the day.
— Veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer made two nice plays Saturday as he continues to rebound from an up-and-down start to camp.
On one play, he shadowed rookie wide receiver Juron Criner on a route into the end zone. Carson Palmer’s pass sailed out of bounds, with Criner allowed no room to make a play for the ball.
Later in practice, Spencer closed on receiver Jacoby Ford and deflected the ball away at the last second after it appeared as if Ford was in position to make a huge play.
— Knee and hamstring injuries have been the popular injuries so far this season for the Raiders. Allen said there’s not much one can do about the knee injuries. Hamstring injuries are another matter.
“The knee injuries, those things happen,” Allen said. “The hamstrings, we’re trying to make sure that, number one, we do a good job of rehabbing the guys that have them and, number two, continue with some of the massage, the stretching, the hot tubs, to try to keep them loose and also really informing them about staying hydrated, because that’s one of the biggest reasons for soft tissue injuries.”
— The Raiders announced that Monday’s game will be televised live on ESPN and KPIX. In the past, many exhibition games failed to sell out and weren’t shown except on a tape-delayed basis.
Naturally, we’ll be conducting a live chat throughout the game, fielding questions, providing insight and context and pointing out highlights.
— It’s no secret that many exhibition games are decided by players that won’t be with the team days or weeks down the road, with the starters long since departed.
Allen, for one, said that he still sees value in the Raiders winning exhibition games.
“It’s the only reason why you play the games,” Allen said. “Absolutely, we’re going to try to win. That doesn’t mean we’re going to play our starters for four quarters.
“We’re trying to win the game but we’re also trying to evaluate the players that we have here and see who can play and see who can help us out through the regular season. These games don’t count, but they matter. If you want to develop a winning attitude, the best way to do it is to go out and win games.”
— Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor didn’t get a chance to play in any of Oakland’s exhibition games last season, in part because he arrived via the supplemental draft so late in camp.
On Monday, he is expected to see his first meaningful action in a game of any kind. He played one snap during a regular-season game but called for a false-start penalty.
Allen said he isn’t concerned about Pryor being too amped up to play in a game.
“I don’t know about being too hyped up,” Allen said. “He’s going to be excited to go out and play. My talk with him will be, ‘Just go out there and compete and do your best, and we’ll see what happens,’ ”
It’s likely that Palmer will play a series or two, with Matt Leinart finishing the first half or so. Allen said he isn’t telling the media or his players how much or how long they will play.
“I don’t know exactly how much it will be,” Allen said, “but I would expect to see him get plenty of snaps.”
Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said he didn’t know much about Pryor before joining the Raiders for a second stint.
As a result, DeFilippo watched all the tapes of Pryor’s games at Ohio State. He likes what he has seen from Pryor so far.
“What we’re trying to do with Terrelle is get him better every day in terms of huddle procedure, at the line of scrimmage, and he’s done that,” DeFilippo said. “He’s improved every day, and that’s what we keep preaching with him, improving every day.”
Pryor still struggles with his footwork, by his own admission, as well as his accuracy. Give him time, DeFilippo said. Those are things that come with practice, experience and proper coaching.
“It’s a footwork thing and it’s a maturity thing,” DeFilippo said. “He hasn’t been in this league, so it’s kind of unfair to compare him to Matt and Carson because he hasn’t played as much football or seen as many looks. But the more consistent he gets with his footwork, no doubt, the more accurate he’s going to be.”
— Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl