With training camp just around the corner, Oakland Raiders fans will have a lot of new faces and numbers to recognize this year. All eyes will be on the likes of Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Matt Schaub and Maurice Jones Drew as they attempt to bring the Raiders out of the basement of the AFC West.
However the one player to watch in this years training camp is not a veteran acquisition or a high draft pick like Khalil Mack, its second year linebacker Sio Moore.
Moore had a very good rookie year, starting all 16 games at strongside linebacker and showing well in all phases of the game. While not a dominant pass rusher, he was talented enough with his hand in the dirt to take attention away from Lamarr Houston.
This year he lost the SLB job as when Mack was picked fifth overall, but started to get work with the first team defense on the weak side in spring practices. While he has been rotating with Miles Burris while Kevin Burnett is training away from the team, Moore is possibly the best option.
No matter what the starters are at the beginning of camp, Moore will push for a starting job, or at least a significant role player position. His physical skills and fiery style of play are a spark for the defense and put him at a level of talent not seen in many years in the East Bay. He is simply too good to keep off the field.
Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver has admitted that Burris has an upper hand because he has had more experience at weakside linebacker than Moore, and Burnett has an advantage over both because of his veteran experience.
However, training camp presents a great opportunity for Moore to showcase his physicality that could earn him a starting job. Burnett is aging, and although he had a good year last year, he started to show signs of decline. The coaching staff sees Moore as a possible future stud, and might be looking to have him supplant Burnett sooner rather than later.
Either way, Moore will come ready to play in training camp. He managed to learn one position enough last offseason to start 16 games as a rookie, what’s to say he cant repeat that feat in 2014?