By Steve Corkran
Sunday, July 28th, 2013 at 1:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
NAPA — By this time last year, linebacker Miles Burris was well on his way to establishing himself as a rising star and forcing the Raiders to find a place for him in the starting lineup.
These days, Burris still is recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee and itching to get back on the field as soon as possible.
“That’s part of why they picked me up is my mentality,” Burris said. “I love football. I love competing. I love being with my teammates and getting better every day. Just playing ball. That’s what I love to do.”
Burris started 15 of the 16 games he played in as a rookie last season. In the process, he recorded 138 tackles and injured his knee.
He underwent surgery soon after the season ended and has been in rehab mode ever since. Coach Dennis Allen said Burris and the other injured players fall further and further behind with each missed day.
“Miles is the guy that we were counting on this year,” Allen said.
That still might be the case if Burris is able to return to full strength before long and play at the level he did last season, when he made veteran Aaron Curry expendable.
For now, Kaluka Maiava is working at the weak-side spot that Burris occupied last season. But, not Maiava is out with a left foot injury. That underscores the need for depth and versatility.
“You have to be able to train all of these linebackers to play multiple positions,” Allen said.
Burris said a typical day for him is working out with the strength coach, then “mentally” playing his position as a means of staying sharp on his assignments and the defensive scheme.
His knee injury was the manifestation of normal wear and tear from playing football, Burris said. He started to feel pain at some point in the second half of the season.
Sitting out isn’t something that Burris accustomed to doing. He hasn’t missed a game since he started playing in the fifth grade, he said.
“I’ve rarely missed any practices,” Burris said. “So, I just love being out there every day. Being here right now, it’s just the Lord’s way of teaching me some patience. It’s been good, though. You got to take the positives out of it.”