Khalil Mack knows how to play football. In fact, he’s pretty good at it.
The Raiders’ defensive end ranks as one of the NFL’s best players. Over four NFL seasons he has 40½ sacks, always is among the NFL leaders in quarterback pressures and was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
Yet this offseason, Mack, 27, has been absent from Oakland’s voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) and programs under new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
Mack, who’s hoping to get a contract extension settled before the 2018 season begins, will have to learn Guenther’s schemes and get familiar with some new teammates. His last chance before the team opens training camp next month will be this week with the team’s mandatory minicamp.
Guenther, for one, hopes Mack will take part.
“He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do,” Guenther told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal during last week’s final OTAs. “We’re going to have a plan for that, for sure. Really, I’m concerned about the guys that are here now working. These guys have been busting their tails every day – coming in early, meeting with the coaches, being great in the meeting rooms, communicating on the field. We do a lot with one-minute situations today, so it was really good to see.”
As Gehlken noted, the Raiders can fine Mack each day he misses this week, if that’s what he decides to do. Those fines could total more than $84,000, Gehlken reported.
Judging by Mack’s success and work ethic in his first four seasons — and the likelihood Mack has been doing his homework and working out — it’s a stretch to believe Mack will arrive and be unable to catch up and excel once again in 2018.
Raiders fans know he’ll be ready to go in Game 1.