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Ken Norton, Jr. On Khalil Mack: "He's Amazing"

Posted Jan 26, 2016

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., spoke with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on SiriusXM NFL Radio, sharing his thoughts about Khalil Mack and the 2016 Senior Bowl.

Make the Pro Bowl? Check.

Show a marked improvement from Year 1 to Year 2? Check.

Be named a First-Team All-Pro player at not one, but two positions? Also check.

It was quite the sophomore campaign for defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack, but now the next step in the dynamic defender’s development is learning to not only deal with, but excel with the weight of expectations, at least according to defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.

“He [Mack] is an amazing player, and now the next phase is, can he handle the success?” Norton told Jim Miller and Pit Kirwan on SiriusXM NFL Radio Monday afternoon. “Can he handle everyone looking at him, saying he’s going to be the next Hall of Famer, and can he keep his level of play high? That’s what I have to deal with now. Can he handle the girls, and the success, and the money?”

Mack undoubtedly became one of the NFL’s premier defensive players in 2015, finishing the season ranked second in the league with 15 sacks, all while remaining a force in the Raiders’ run defense.

“He’s a unique combination,” Norton explained. “The guy that looks the part. The guy that acts the part. The guy that really shows up to work every day. The guy that is trying to improve his game, that’s who he is. He’s amazing.”

He continued, “Coming in, I knew that Khalil Mack needed to rush more. He was dropping too much in coverage, so I said, ‘let me start rushing this guy a whole lot more,’ and he went from four sacks to 15 sacks, so it’s really impressive that he was able to do [that].”

Norton spoke to Miller and Kirwan live from Mobile, Ala., where he was on site getting ready to take in the 2016 Senior Bowl.

His preparation for this year’s contest is slightly different from last year, as the team’s scouting department now has a better idea of what he looks for in defensive players, as far as intangibles, motor and other characteristics.

“We’ve only been there a year now, our coaching staff, so now they’re getting a feel for the type of players that fit in, the type of guys that I like. ‘Kenny, you’re going to love this guy,’ and last year they might not have been able to say that,’” Norton said.

While Mack did not participate in the Senior Bowl, the Silver and Black have had success selecting players who have participated in the contest, including quarterback Derek Carr, guard Gabe Jackson, defensive tackle Justin Ellis and most recently, tight end Clive Walford.

The 2016 Senior Bowl kicks off Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT and will be televised on NFL Network.