ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Oakland rookie Miles Burris has had a tougher time keeping his emotions under control than he has learning the Raiders' defensive schemes.
Since being elevated to a starting outside linebacker early in training camp while Aaron Curry continues rehabbing following offseason knee surgery, Burris has stayed busy in the film room and on the field trying to keep pace with the rest of the defense.
Oakland's fourth-round draft pick has been in such a rush that fellow linebackers Rolando McClain and Philip Wheeler have had to pull Burris aside at times to slow him down.
That might not be so easy to do this week.
The Raiders open the regular season on national television Monday night against AFC West rival San Diego.
"We just try to tell him to relax," McClain said. "He's a very energized guy, and we love it. The hardest thing is just telling him to calm down. He always wants to make plays (but) you have to be calm."
That might not be so easy to do this week.
The Raiders open the regular season on national television Monday night against AFC West rival San Diego. Burris grew up two hours north of the Oakland Coliseum and figures to have several family and friends in the stands.
He's also the only Oakland rookie scheduled to start. Wide receiver Rod Streater, who went undrafted this year, has been taking reps with the first team offense throughout the week but has yet to be confirmed as a starter.
Burris feels he has a better handle on the situation now and isn't concerned about keeping his emotions in check.
"I think I'm past that a little bit," Burris said Friday. "To people from the outside it probably does seem surreal. 'You're playing for the Raiders, you're playing on Monday Night Football in the opener, it's crazy.' It is an amazing opportunity but at the same time when you get out there, it really is, every day, people just playing football."
Oakland's linebackers have been under scrutiny for most of the offseason after Kamerion Wimbley was released in a cost-cutting move.
Wheeler was signed as a free agent to replace Wimbley and was penciled in to start alongside McClain and Curry. But Curry was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and is ineligible to play for the first six weeks of the season.
Burris, who led San Diego State in tackling each of the past two years, was initially expected to contribute on special teams but was pressed into a starting role when Curry's recovery took longer than expected.
Now he'll be trying to help slow down quarterback Philip Rivers and a San Diego offense featuring running back Ryan Matthews.
"They're a real explosive offense," Burris said. "They have a lot of players that can make big plays. We've got our hands full."
The game will mark the full debut of the Raiders new defense after decades of man-to-man schemes that featured little, if any, blitzing.
Burris has picked up the new system fairly well and has spent countless hours in the film room to increase the learning curve and decrease his mistakes.
"Miles is very rarely a repeat offender," defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. "If you get him, he learns from it and comes back with a vengeance on the next couple of plays. He's tackled pretty well the past two games in space. He wasn't as good the first game and then he made that adjustment."
Burris has been better at that than he has staying calm, though he has been improving that part of his game as well.
"There is a fine line of being over-amped but you have to be mentally alert, disciplined and all of that," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable right now. The older guys have done a great job of helping me get accustomed to the defense and helping me get in the right place to be in the right position to make plays."
NOTES: WR Denarius Moore (hamstring) was limited in practice but is making progress and the Raiders are encouraged about his prospects of playing against San Diego. The same can't be said for speedy WR Jacoby Ford (ankle), who did not practice and will be a game-time decision. ... Alex Parsons took the majority of reps at center but the team has not ruled out Stefen Wisniewski either. Wisniewski returned to practice this week after being sidelined several weeks with a calf injury.
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