MINNEAPOLIS – When Khalil Mack was drafted No. 5 overall, the Raiders penned him into the starting strongside linebacker spot.
Sio Moore was moved to the weakside and seemed to be the obvious choice to start without resistance.
While he would never say it publicly, Miles Burris believed pervading thought should be "pump the brakes." The third-year pro wasn’t getting in the backseat without a fight.
Burris certainly put up his dukes. A tremendous offseason program elevated him to the first team, a spot he’s largely held onto with a solid training camp.
“I believe I’m playing my best football so far,” Burris said. “On the other hand, I hold myself to such high standards that I’m never truly satisfied. I always feel like I can get better.”
Typical Burris. He’s an old school guy who believes football players should be seen and not heard. While there’s plenty of personality off camera – check his Instagram; you’ll see – he prefers to button up for the public.
He never addressed exactly what was wrong with a knee injury that pillaged his 2013 season and made him somewhat of a forgotten asset. He came back near season’s end, but never made the impact of a rookie year where he had 138 tackles – yep, you read that right – and 15 starts.
Miles is completely healthy now, a state this football junkie wouldn’t take for granted again.
“It’s such a blessing,” Burris said. “To play football at this level is a privilege, but you never value it more than after it’s gone for a little bit.”
That’s why he’s excited to be considered for an impact role on the weakside, a post that must do everything well. Moore and Burris must show great versatility and instincts in the preseason – which starts Friday at Minnesota -- to warrant a starting spot.
[RELATED: Moore above Burris on depth chart]
“You get to rush, cover, play the run and play the pass,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “That guy has to be a good diagnose. He has to be able to see what’s happening in the run game and hit gaps correctly. Both Miles and Sio have done that throughout camp. We like what they’ve bringing to the table, and we’re excited to see how this thing goes over the course of four games.”
Burris doesn’t feel like he has to match Moore tackle for tackle. He doesn’t take the field each day hoping to beat a teammate, nor does he care that Moore's rated higher on the preseason's first depth chart. Burris’ motivation comes from inside.
“The notion of a position battle doesn’t affect me,” Burris said. “I come everyday with such intensity that I don’t need to be swayed or pushed. I feel like I’m competing with whatever I did the day before. I want to keep raising the bar for my own play.”