- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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NAPA, Calif. -- The guy most stung emotionally by the Oakland Raiders releasing veteran linebacker Kevin Burnett last week, besides Burnett himself? His younger brother, Raiders third-year linebacker Kaelin Burnett.
Of course it would rub the younger Burnett the wrong way. But he also knows there's a business aspect to professional football and it's nothing personal. Besides, Kaelin's own roster spot is anything but guaranteed.
"I've just got to look at it as Kevin wasn't here when I first got here so I've just got to stay focused," the younger Burnett said following practice Thursday. "We had a dream to play together on the same team and we accomplished that last year. Good things don't last forever, so I've just got to step up my game."
The 6-feet-4, 240-pound Burnett, signed by Oakland as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada in 2012, has been getting second-team reps in camp at strongside linebacker, behind first-round draft pick Khalil Mack, as well as seeing time at weakside linebacker in a nickel defense.
It's a far cry from where Burnett cut his NFL teeth -- special teams. In fact, his 10 special teams tackles (six solo) were second on the team last year.
And it was his hit on Dallas Cowboys kick returner Terrance Williams on Thanksgiving last year that knocked the ball loose on the game's opening kickoff, Greg Jenkins scooping it up and returning it for a 23-yard touchdown.
"The coaches are looking at me to get the little things right," Burnett said, "to have zero defects. So I have to pay attention to the details, concentrate and focus."
But of course, Burnett has bigger goals, ones that are contingent upon "the little things" when it comes to this team.
"I'm going to give 5-2 a run for his money at the SAM (linebacker)," he said of Mack, referencing the No. 5 overall draft pick's uniform number. "Straight up."