When the Raiders offense lines up against the Bears Sunday in London, one of the key questions on every snap will be, "Where’s Khalil Mack?"
Chicago likes to move Mack around. Sometimes he’s on the left, sometimes on the right. He’ll stunt inside or loop outside. Anything to get No. 52 a bit of an opening he can exploit to get to the quarterback.
"He’s a great player," said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden this week. "They move around, so he’s hard to find at times." And, that allows other Bears defenders more latitude to make plays, too, Gruden says.
Added Gruden: "We’re going to have our hands full, that’s for sure."
Mack, the former Raider, can take over a game. In four games he has 4½ sacks, four forced fumbles, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss.
That means Raiders tackles Kolton Miller (on the left side) and Trent Brown (right) will have to be at the top of their games Sunday to contain Mack, protect quarterback Derek Carr and open some running lanes for Josh Jacobs.
Are Miller and Brown up to the task?
A year ago, Miller was plagued by injuries as a rookie and at times a revolving door for defensive ends. He gave up sacks in bunches. And, in the Raiders’ game in England against the Seahawks last year had a horrible game in a 27-3 loss.
Now Miller is back in England with healthy legs and a healthy outlook after playing much better so far in Year 2. He’s up for going against Mack.
"I think that I’m improving and getting better each game," Miller told Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. "And now there is a chance to go test yourself against one of the best pass rushers in the league."
Miller says he can do the job if he just focuses on fundamentals and doesn’t try to overthink things or get too hyped.
"That will just get you off balance and work for his power," Miller said.
On the other side, Brown has a solid history against Mack. Last season, while playing for the Patriots, Brown was terrific in New England’s 38-31 victory, with Mack getting just one tackle – and no sacks or QB hits – all game.
As the 2-2 Raiders head into the game against the 3-1 Bears, Gruden has faith in his tackles.
"That’s why we (signed) Trent Brown and that’s why we drafted Kolton Miller in the first round," Gruden told Graney. "Those guys are going to have some tough snaps (against the Bears)."
Las Vegas oddsmakers have made the Bears 5½-point favorites. Kickoff in London is set for 10 a.m.