Raiders have strong competition at weakside linebacker

Raiders have strong competition at weakside linebacker
June 18, 2014, 6:45 pm
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Kevin Burnett, Miles Burris and Sio Moore are battling in Raiders' minicamp for the starting weakside linebacker job. (USATSI)

Editor's note: Scott Bair is in Alameda Tuesday through Thursday for the Raiders' three-day minicamp. Stay logged on to and tune in nightly to SportsNet Central and Yahoo SportsTalk Live for comprehensive coverage.

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders could have several interesting position battles in training camp. Weakside linebacker could be the best among them.

Drafting Khalil Mack at No. 5 overall pushed Sio Moore over from the strong side despite the fact incumbent starter Kevin Burnett remains under contract. And don’t sleep on Miles Burris, completely healthy after an injury-riddled 2013.

While many believe Moore would run away with this starting spot, his transition hasn’t been ideal thus far despite experience at the position in college.

Burris lined up with the first team last week and again during this minicamp – Burnett remains out with an ankle injury. For now, Moore has been pushed back to the second team.

How he responds heading into training camp could determine if he stays there.

“He had his best day today,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “He’s quick in reading off the line of scrimmage. There are a few things that he doesn’t know, but he’s gotten better. He’s had some ups and downs in these practices, but that’s because he hasn’t seen things from that position.

“We need him to keep progressing. We need him to stay in the moment, and learn from some of the guys we’ve brought in. He needs to take one play at a time, and regardless of what happens, move on to the next play.”

Burris has impressed with renewed health and improved knowledge, gleaned from a season spent watching and learning.

Burnett’s standing is a mystery at this point. He hasn’t been a major part of the offseason program, and training camp will offer greater insight into his role. He started every game in 2013 and played well, though a youth movement might make him an odd man out, especially with a $4.142 million cap with little dead money associated with it.

Head coach Dennis Allen has said time and again that there is no depth chart at this stage, and that real competition will be waged throughout the preseason. With what we know, there are three legitimate contenders for one key position.

“All of our linebackers are battling right now. We have competition at that position for the first time. We have real competition, and not just for who’s going to make the roster. We have competition for who’s going to start.”