Burgess AWOL as Raiders Open Camp

For Oakland Raiders fans, this was the day we'd been waiting the last six months for. For two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess, not so much.

The Raiders held their first team meetings Wednesday in Napa, constituting the official beginning of training camp 2009. As expected, the unsigned rookie receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was neither present or accounted for. But it was not expected that Derrick Burgess would be conspicuously absent, and it looks like he maybe angling to get released.

There are 31 guys on camp roster who actually are going to get released that must hate Burgess for being able to pull this.

Coach Tom Cable seemed steamed at Burgess in his first-day noontime press conference. "He is not here by his choice," the AP quotes Cable as saying,. "We really haven't talked about a reason and that's really all I'm going to say about it."

Burgess has not participated in one off-season activity this year, and called in sick to a mandatory mini camp in May because of an upset stomach. That's the kind of thing you say when you're 12 and you can't think of anything else to tell your parents.

He's probably not pleased over the acquisition of free agent Greg Ellis, who can roam as a standing defensive end. And he might not be happy about all the pre-draft trade rumors that had him getting shipped to New England.

Or he might have been thrilled with those rumors, wanting out of Oakland as soon as possible and seeing a role for him in New England. Burgess rushes the quarterback well, but his run defense is as threadbare as those chicks in the PETA ads. New England might be able to better employ a guy as limited and situational as Burgess

Many Raider fans have already moved on from Burgess, and probably wouldn't mind seeing him cut outright. But that would be even worse than the Randy Moss trade, because cutting him brings nothing in return.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would tell New England they could have Burgess if they give Randy Moss back. 

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