Burnett fitting in well on Raiders defense

MICHAEL WAGAMAN (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Oakland's Kevin Burnett isn't sure yet what exactly the Raiders will try to do to slow down the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs this week.

It might not matter what the plan is the way the Chiefs have played while winning their first five games.

That's why even as he buried himself in the film room trying to find an edge, Burnett realized the Raiders will likely have to go off script if they're going to give Kansas City its first loss of the season.

''Nobody's (stopped the Chiefs) so far,'' Burnett said Thursday. ''We're going into uncharted waters. You want to go execute your game plan, but everybody's game plan works on the practice field. It's not until Sunday when you see whether it works or not.''

Part of Oakland's offseason defensive makeover, Burnett is sometimes at his best when freelancing on the field.

The ninth-year outside linebacker had 14 tackles in last week's win over San Diego, including a stuff of Chargers running back Danny Woodhead on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1. He also forced a fumble that safety Charles Woodson returned for a touchdown.

Those types of plays have become typical of Burnett this season, his first in Oakland after spending the past two seasons in Miami.

He had 10 tackles and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown in the Raiders' 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sept. 23.

A week later, when Oakland's defense gave up a 33-yard completion from Washington's Robert Griffin III to tight end Logan Paulsen, Burnett chased Paulsen down from behind and knocked the ball loose for another turnover.

''He plays the game fast and he's instinctive,'' Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. ''When you play this game fast and you play this game instinctively, you're going to make a lot of plays. We're going to continue to put him in a position where he can do that for us.''

Burnett was one of the less-heralded offseason signings made by Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie when the team slashed its payroll and got rid of high-priced, underachieving players such as defensive tackle Richard Seymour and middle linebacker Rolando McClain.

Nick Roach, another offseason acquisition who replaced McClain, has gotten the majority of attention as Oakland's defense has improved. Burnett, however, has been every bit as instrumental in defensive coordinator Jason Tarver's system.

The two linebackers were pivotal in the Raiders' win over the Chargers, combining for 26 tackles.

''Both of those two guys have done a great job of learning the scheme, giving themselves to the scheme and working together,'' Tarver said.

''What they did very well in that game is they used their hands. Kevin, that was the best he's done since he's been here. That's what you have to do as a linebacker. Your job is to finish the down unblocked and communicate with the rest of the defense.''

Chasing down a pocket passer such as San Diego's Philip Rivers is a lot different than going after a more mobile player such as Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith.

In his first season with the Chiefs, the former No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005 has passed for 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns with just three interceptions. Smith is also Kansas City's second-leading rusher behind Jamaal Charles with 161 yards.

''To defend a quarterback like that who doesn't make many mistakes, you just want to take away what he wants to do,'' Burnett said. ''Once you can do that, you can present different blitz options, present different coverage looks, but you have to know where he's going with the ball.''

Notes: Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings continue to make progress from their respective hamstring injuries but are still limited in practice. Fullback Marcel Reece, right tackle Tony Pashos and backup defensive tackle Stacy McGee were also limited. ... Center Stefen Wisniewski (right knee sprain) did not practice and is all but certain to sit out a second straight game.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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