NAPA Raiders rookie linebacker Miles Burris admittedly makes his share of mistakes.
That's why his play near the conclusion of Sunday's practice was an ideal end to his day.
The former Granite Bay High School standout deflected a pass from backup quarterback Matt Leinart near the goal line to force an incompletion and help the second-team nickel defense keep the second-team offense from scoring.
"I tried to redeem myself a little bit from some of the other coverages," Burris said.
Burris and the rest of the Raiders' linebackers want to make those kind of plays consistently after their predecessors have been maligned for years.
The last Raiders linebacker to play in the Pro Bowl was Matt Millen in 1988. In recent seasons, the team's linebackers have been criticized for lapses in pass coverage and for being soft against the run.
Some of that can be blamed on a lack of talent. Players being put in tough situations also contributed to poor play.
The new defensive scheme under coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver asks the linebackers to do more this season, which is to their liking.
But Allen is still looking for consistency.
"From the first group, I've been fairly pleased," Allen said. "I think Rolando McClain's having a nice camp, Philip Wheeler's having a nice camp. Miles Burris, he's another one of those guys who's got to be more consistent. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes, but we've got to be better at our backup linebacker positions."
The group isn't healthy. Aaron Curry hasn't practiced a week into training camp because of a knee injury and is on the physically unable to perform list. That has left Burris to work with the first unit in the base 4-3 defense with McClain and Wheeler, who signed as a free agent after four seasons with Indianapolis.
The Raiders drafted two linebackers in April: Burris, a fourth-round pick from San Diego State, and Nathan Stupar, a seventh-round selection from Penn State.
The new defensive strategy excites the linebackers. While previous Raiders defenses have been predictable, relying on players to simply make plays, the new plan looks to take advantage of the players' athleticism.
"The whole scheme is different," backup linebacker Travis Goethel said. "It's a lot more complicated scheme. We've got people going here and there, and our blitzes are just a lot better."
The Raiders intend to use multiple defensive looks, so linebackers have to play the run, defend the pass, blitz and even line up as pass rushers.
There's more to do, but the players like it.
"They're not asking me to do anything I can't do," Wheeler said. "So whatever they're asking me to do, I know I can do it, and it doesn't matter. From a group standpoint, we all can do a lot of things, and whatever they ask us to do we're going to do."
Wheeler is expecting big things from McClain. The Raiders' first-round pick in 2010 has been criticized for inconsistent play in his first two seasons.
"Rolando, he's like a young linebacker that's got all the talent in the world," Wheeler said. "Right now, I can see this is going to be a really good year for him. It just seems like he's gaining so much from this defense."
Notes Shane Lechler (knee) still has not practiced, but Allen said the punter is making progress. Rookie Marquette King has been handling the punting.
Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Eddie McGee missed practice because of sore hamstrings. Defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee) was held out of part of practice for "preventive" reasons, Allen said.
Cornerback Ron Bartell (knee) passed a physical and has been cleared to practice. According to the collective bargaining agreement, Bartell must be given three days of noncontact work before being allowed to practice with the team.
Tight end Richard Gordon (hip flexor, lower leg infection) returned to practice.
Defensive tackle Travis Ivey, who hadn't practiced because of conditioning concerns, was waived.