Burgess still on the mend from hernia surgery, will skip preseason opener

NAPA, Calif. -- Derrick Burgess might be healthy enough to practice with the Oakland Raiders, but he's still not ready to play in a game.

Burgess was ruled out of Saturday's preseason opener against Arizona by Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin, who says the team will continue to take a cautious approach with its two-time Pro Bowl defensive end.

"I just don't want to put Derrick out there right now," Kiffin said. "He's only been back for a couple days and it's not worth it to put him out there full speed right now. We've got three more games after this."

Burgess only started practicing with the rest of his teammates this week after beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list as a result of hernia surgery in June. He took minimal reps with Oakland's starting defense on Wednesday, but spent most of the morning practice as a spectator.

Fourth-year veteran Chris Clemons and rookie Jay Richardson alternated working in Burgess' absence. The Raiders have also been taking a long look at third-round draft pick Quentin Moses, who has been working on the opposite end of Burgess with Oakland's starters.

Burgess, who has 27 sacks over the last two seasons and set a franchise record two years ago with 16, is in no rush to hurry back.

"You always need preseason just to get the rust off; it's not more important than my body," Burgess said. "So I need to make sure I'm healthy enough and well enough to come in and do what I do. There's no such thing as game shape because you're always going to be tired. It's just a fact of me being comfortable with my body and what I'm doing."

Burgess hoped to become more financially comfortable in the offseason.

Entering the third year of a five-year, $18 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2005, Burgess says he was led to believe the team would renegotiate his contract after reaching double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons. Senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi was fired in May, however, and no new offer ever came.

The Raiders have reasons for holding off on a new deal for Burgess. They have yet to sign their first-round draft pick, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and will likely have to pay close to $30 million in guaranteed money to get him in. Burgess, on the other hand, is signed through 2009 and only carries a $1.5 million base salary this year.

"Hopefully they decide they want to give me a new contract, cool," Burgess said. "If not, hey, it's a business, you got to remember that. The only part I want everybody to understand, like I tell the young cats, always treat it like one. That's it."

The Raiders are hoping to give Burgess some relief on the field after two years of being the focal point in Oakland's pass rush.

Moses has been the most impressive rookie in camp and has been practicing with the team's starting defense since the first day of practices. Kiffin has called Moses "unblockable" and routinely praises the former Georgia standout.

"I'm getting a lot of reps because some people are down, so I'm just trying to go out and get better with each practice," Moses said. "My thing is consistency. I'll have one good practice then six bad ones. It's the NFL and it's hard to win if you're not consistent."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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