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Expect to See Burnett as a Starter at LB in 09

Today’s San Diego Union-Tribune reports that you can expect to see newly signed LB Kevin Burnett in a starting role in 09 in the Chargers defense:

Kevin Burnett spent the past two seasons in Wade Phillips’ defense, starting only four times but playing at least half the snaps most games. Considered a fine athlete, Burnett was seen as a specialist of sorts, a good linebacker in coverage. His potential was intriguing to about a half-dozen teams in need of an inside linebacker.

He left the Dallas Cowboys and joins the Chargers, hoping to unleash the player he believes has been bottled. “I didn’t get a chance to showcase my skills,” Burnett said yesterday. ” . . . I can’t really describe my strengths and weaknesses. I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to go out and play. I know when you get out there, you make them call your name.”

Burnett, who this week signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract, has played the “Mo” (the weakside inside linebacker spot) in the defense that Phillips, the Cowboys head coach, installed in San Diego when he was defensive coordinator and in Dallas. Burnett is expected to take over that spot here, though he will have competition from incumbents Matt Wilhelm and Tim Dobbins.

“He played a very good role there,” defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said of Burnett. “He’ll have a solid opportunity to contribute here. That’s what I’d like to find out – if the guys we have here can be that every-down player. . . . We’re going to have some great competition.”

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