Khalil Mack certainly has the attention of the Green Bay Packers.
Coming off a five-sack game against the Denver Broncos this past weekend, the Raiders outside linebacker/defensive end now leads the NFL with 14 sacks and has nine of those in his past three games.
When 9-4 Green Bay comes into O.co Coliseum Sunday afternoon to face the 6-7 Raiders, the Packers know they’ll need to block and contain Mack to give Aaron Rodgers time to throw.
Against the Broncos, Mack was in attack mode, bull rushing through blockers at some times and using his speed and quickness to get around them at others.
The Packers have been decent at protecting Rodgers this year – they rank tied for 14th in the league, having given up 31 sacks – but now face an extraordinary challenge against a pass rusher who’s been almost unblockable the past three weeks.
Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga has watched tape of Mack’s performance against the Broncos and says the second-year player is enormously talented.
“I think he has everything, to be honest with you,” said Bulaga. “He’s got a little bit of everything. He’s a strong guy … if you watch how he got most of his sacks against Denver, he’s a strong dude. You’ve got to be ready for everything because he’s got good speed as well. He shows a little bit of everything.”
Bulaga played against Mack in the exhibition season of 2014 and recalls thinking Mack “was going to be a talented guy.”
Now, the Packers know they face a huge challenge from an Oakland front seven that’s been playing very well of late. Rookie defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., and defensive tackle Dan Williams have been impact players.
“They line up and challenge us,” said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "That’s the way you want to play defense. They play defense they way you’re supposed to. That’s definitely going into (head coach) Jack (Del Rio)’s background. He’s always been an excellent defensive coach and his teams have always played great defense.”