In the previous two seasons, the Oakland Raiders have only kept five to six linebackers on the 53-man roster. If those numbers remain the same in 2014, the competition at linebacker during training camp is going to be serious. In part one of the outside linebacker competition series; we looked at players that are contenders for starting spots and playing time. In part two, we will look at the players battling in camp to earn roster spots and provide depth.
The Raiders main goal this offseason was to bring in players to add competition at every position. That has been accomplished at linebacker with Khalil Mack, Sio Moore and Kevin Burnett fighting for starting roles. Behind those players, the training camp competition really heats up. Oakland has Miles Burris, Kaelin Burnett, Kaluka Maiava, and sleeper Carlos Fields fighting for spots.
Burris is the mostly likely to have an impact in 2014. Like many of the other linebackers on the roster, Burris can be used in several ways. He is an option to be the back-up middle linebacker behind Nick Roach. He started 15 games in his rookie season at weak-side linebacker and has some ability to rush the passer on the blitz. Those attributes will help him find a niche on defense. He missed time last season with knee issues which cost him some development and set back his progress. He will need to have a strong training camp in order to solidify his value to the defense.
Maiava also missed time last season with injuries and was never able to be a consistent factor in the defensive rotation. He is another linebacker who can benefit from his versatility. The Raiders had him backing up several spots last season and could use him in the same way this year. He will need to stay healthy and show his worth in training camp to find a spot on the team. Even though, he was on the roster last season, Maiava is still a bit of an unknown as far as what he can bring to the table.
Kaelin Burnett was one of the last players to earn a roster spot in 2013. The outside linebacker spent most of the season contributing on special teams. That will be his path to a roster spot again in 2014. Burnett has more competition to overcome this year, but will get an opportunity to compete for a spot. The preseason games will be his showcase to separate himself from the competition and show what he is capable of at linebacker.
Carlos Fields is an interesting undrafted free agent signing by the Raiders. Fields will make a huge jump from his college competition at Winston Salem State to the NFL. He has known as a tackling machine in college with 93 stops in 2013. He is not a prototypical pass rushing outside linebacker, but has the ability to rush the quarterback. He is a long shot, but brings some interesting skills to the team. The practice squad is another reasonable option for Fields.
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Tags: Carlos Fields, Football, Kaelin Burnett, Kaluka Maiava, Khalil Mack, Miles Burris, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, outside linebacker, training camp