Miles Burris needed knee surgery following the 2012 season. The Raiders linebacker played every game of his rookie season, without a hint his joint was in shambles.
That’s why outsiders were perplexed when he couldn’t start last training camp. Burris sightings were limited to the exercise bike near the locker room, far from the progress being made on the field. He would not return for months. Burris spent most of the season on the physically unable to perform list, able to play in just the last six games.
Offseason knee surgeries shouldn’t take that long to heal. Did you have a setback, Miles?
Good luck getting a straight answer. Head coach Dennis Allen’s more forthcoming of injury info.
Even last week, with no chance that honesty would produce competitive disadvantage, Burris sidestepped whether he had a setback.
“You never know what’s going to happen with an injury,” Burris said. “When you get put on the PUP list, you just have to just keep grinding every day.”
He brought it back to the overarching theme of this offseason: it’s good to be healthy again.
“There’s nothing like playing the game of football and playing the game of football healthy,” he said. “You’re always going to be nicked up but I’m feeling great and enjoying playing the game.”
Always stoic in front of a camera, Burris let his guard down some when discussing an essentially lost season in 2013, that killed momentum generated after making 15 starts the year before.
“Mentally, that was one of the toughest things that I’ve been through,” Burris said. “It was one of the darkest years of my life but that’s where my faith came through.”
It helped Burris regain full health and a rejuvenated state of mind. It has vaulted Burris back into the mix to start. He practiced with the first team at weakside linebacker, and he figures to compete at that spot throughout the offseason.
“He’s got two years in the system, so I think he’s comfortable and he’s continued to work extremely hard to get better as a football player,” Allen said. “I think any time you have players that have athletic ability, have football instincts, and they work as hard as he does, they find a way to get on the field and they find a way to make a play. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys that love football, that want to work, guys that are going to put the team first. If you do that, then you’ll find a way to get on the field.”
Burris got there at the start of 2012 and never abandoned his post. Burris had 62 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception as a rookie. Veteran Kevin Burnett was signed to upgrade that spot in 2013 and thankfully so, given that injury took Burris down.
The Raiders look forward to seeing how he plays this preseason and, whether he starts or becomes quality depth, the team expects him to contribute heavily in 2014.
“We’re pleased with where Miles is going, we want to see him in pads,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “Miles tries to be exactly right and Miles tries to be physical, and he is both of those things. He played well as a rookie and we would have loved to obviously have him last year, but we’re excited about where he is and where he’s going.”