Khalil Mack Chats with Reporters After Practice

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Q: As excited as you were to get to the first padded practice, it must not even compare to the preseason game just around the corner.**

Mack:"Exactly, man. Everyone's excited for that. We get to see what everybody can do and then we get to see the young guys and see what we taught them and if they use it. Friday's going to be a good day for us."

Q: Has Ken Norton, Jr. rubbed off on you yet? Justin Ellis was saying he's not very outgoing but he wants him to jump around and celebrate more. Has he said the same thing to you?

Mack:"Exactly, exactly. He's looking at us to take the torch as far as taking the energy onto the field. He can't be on the field with us, but we have to bring that spirit and his energy out there on the field and celebrate on everything we do positive as a defense."* * Q: You're pretty much a workmanlike guy. Do you sort of have to re-learn yourself to do that?

Mack:"Yeah, more than likely. It's kind of like a thing where you have to teach yourself over and over again to bring that energy and bring that enthusiasm. In the game it's naturally done, but in practice, that's when you have to bring it and practice it. That's when you can turn it over into the game." 

Q: What do you think of Mario Edwards Jr. thus far?

Mack:"Oh man, the potential for that guy – the sky's the limit. As long as he locks in and focuses what he needs to do and learns that he's a professional now, he's going to be a great player in this league." 

Q: You guys have an opportunity to put the two biggest defensive tackles at the same in the middle of the field.  What does that do for you?

Mack:"We call them 'meat and potatoes.' They eat up that middle and they send that running back to the high side and create that gap and create that push-back that we need in the middle to make it bounce. It's going to be fun, it's going to be fun, and we like to play football like that." 

Q: You're not a really loud guy, but coming into your second year, do you in any way take a leadership role on this team?

Mack:"No doubt. I was just talking to [Justin] Tuck about that; the fact that he wasn't out there yesterday and I had to step into that position, especially being with the guys that we had, and step up talk and bring that leadership role to the table. They really do listen, and I'm seeing that more and more every day. That's something that I have to learn as well." 

Q: Is that a role that you like or is it something you have to adjust to?

Mack:"It's something you have to adjust to, but the thing about being a leader is you have to be a teammate first. I'm just trying to be a good teammate and slowly, slowly go into that role." 

Q: What are the differences when you rush the quarterback from the stand-up position versus being a down lineman?

Mack:"There's not too much of a difference. The only difference is you can see a lot more when you're standing up, and that's what you have to do when you're in that hybrid role. You have to see where the running backs are, you have to see if it's a read-zone option type play, whether the running back is standing over and jumping across – it's a lot of things you have to see. That's what that helps me do, standing up." 

Q: This early in the process, are you still thinking a lot about the new system, new coaching staff and the plays in the playbook, or are you able to just play fast?

Mack:"Exactly. The thinking process was two months ago. We put in the playbook, pretty much the whole thing. Over these past two months I've been studying it and I've put it in my brain and now it's just all clicking and we're rolling." 

Q: What do you think of the role that they have for you in terms of playing on the line, going back, moving around and doing some different things?

Mack:"It's always been my role to be a rusher as well as drop in coverage. It's something that I'm looking forward to and I'm looking forward to playing in a real game and experiencing it."  Q: Are they teaching you to stay home on a play or do you still have deep pursuit angle on the other side?

Mack:"Oh, yeah, they're teaching me a lot of things. Ken Norton is doing an excellent job as far as helping us with that. As far as what you're talking about, staying at home and not going across the line of scrimmage, when you see it's a run, too fast. It's something that we're learning and we're adjusting to it. It's getting better."

Q: You guys had those one-on-one blocking drills today. Was that for bragging rights a little bit? You and Donald Penn were going at it.

Mack:"Yeah, that was for bragging rights. I think he got two out of three, so I have to come back better tomorrow and give him some."

Q: Did you hear about that today?

Mack:"A little bit, a little bit, a little bit. He knows I can switch it up on him, but it's all good for now. I'm a competitor, but it's all good for now. You brought it back up for me, thanks."

Q: If you're standing up, you're going to go against a tight end and if you're down you're going to go against a left tackle…

Mack:"It doesn't matter. It just depends on the situation. If you have guys bringing pairs, two tight ends to my side, I have to get down. It doesn't really matter, it just depends on the situation and what we know they're going to do."

Q: Donald's pretty good at what he does. Do you like that back-and-forth going against somebody who's like that?

Mack:"We talk about it all the time. I told him one of these days I'm going to continuously beat him consistently, but he won't let me put that in his head. It's something we look forward to every day, coming out here and getting better."

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