After Big Season, Raiders' Mack Appears to be Even Better

Hard-working defensive end-linebacker is dominating drills and practices in training camp

Khalil Mack just seems to be getting better and better.

So far in Raiders training camp, the defensive end and linebacker has been drawing raves from his teammates and coaches. After coming up with 15 sacks and being named All-Pro at two positions in just his second NFL season, Mack reportedly has been almost unblockable in training camp.

This week, Jimmy Durkin, who covers the Raiders for the Bay Area News Group, reported that Oakland’s offensive line coach, Mike Tice, told him that his group is getting a crash course every day from Mack. He noted that standout left tackle Donald Penn – as good as he is – has his hands full constantly with Mack.

“Working against (Mack), who is an elite player, and (Bruce Irvin), who is a very good pass rusher, it’s good work for my guys,” he said. “And they are reaching out and embracing it. They aren’t backing down from it. They know they’re just going to get beat. Like yesterday, (No.) 52 (Mack), bends, he’s about this far from the ground, he just slips under Donald’s hands, pulls off because he’s smart, but it’s a sack.

“When we watched the film and I just said, ‘Donald, I don’t have anything for you.’ What am I going to tell him? ‘Bend down there with him?’ It was unbelievable. We like working against those guys. It’s going to make us better.”

New Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele said the only player in the league he can compare Mack to is Von Miller, the Broncos’ outstanding pass rusher.

This week, a panel of analysts at considered the topic of who will lead the NFL in sacks in 2016, and came up with Mack.

Wrote former 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci: “I watched the Raiders practice last week and let me tell you: offenses are going to have a hard time against Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack. Mack is poised to have a big season with Irvin, a complementary pass rusher, on the opposite side.”

Added Michael Robinson: “If you leave Mack one-on-one, he will win 95 percent of the time. If the offense guesses wrong about where he’s going to line up, he wins 100 percent of the time. He’s going to take the crown this season.”

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