Mack: "I've Grown A Lot"

Q: Are you glad the game against Buffalo is in the Bay Area and not in upstate New York whether-wise in December?

Mack:"No doubt. There's nothing like this California weather."

Q: Did you watch a lot of the Bills when you were there?

Mack:"I caught two games. One they played against Baltimore and one when they were playing against one of my other teammates on the Panthers, Josh Thomas. He plays for the Jets now, so I believe he was there recently too."

Q: What do you miss most about Buffalo?

Mack:"The wings, man [laughing]. I have a lot of friends up there, a lot of good friends. You miss them too, but yeah, you miss all of that. You miss the food, the people, that's pretty much it."

Q: The weather?

Mack:"Oh, the weather outside is frightful [singing]. Oh man, I don't miss that."

Q: Do you still feel like a rookie out there?

Mack:"I try to go out and get better every week. I know I'm playing against the best in the world whenever I'm out there on the field, so I want to play at my best. I can't really look at is as being a rookie."

Q: Do you look at their front and say, 'That's what I want to become?" or get to that point statistically?

Mack:"No doubt. They're playing lights out. You're talking about their defensive line, right? Oh yeah. They're playing lights out. They're great as a group. I believe there's three of them that have more than nine plus sacks, so yeah, they're playing very well. They're playing well up front and their corners and their secondary are playing well as well, so yeah, you want to build that and be first in the league in sacks as a group. We're still aspiring to do that."

Q: [Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano] said your last four plays last week were just as good as when you started the game. How have you been able to keep that motor throughout the season?

Mack:"It's a grind. It's a grind. It's a lot of hard work. Mentally, you have to be ready and you have to be focused and it's a daunting task, but it's one that I'm willing to take."

Q: Do you listen to any of the Defensive Rookie of the Year talk or the hype about you so far?

Mack:"No, man. I can't listen to it. I'll listen to it at the end of year, but not now. The grind is all I'm focusing on, and going out and getting better every week."

Q: Where do you think right now that you need to get better?

Mack:"It's a lot of things, man. It's too many things. There are a lot of things I need to work at. I need to work on my vision looking in plays, playing with my hands better, especially pass rush. There are just a whole lot of things I want to work on."

Q: Where's the one thing that you've excelled at?

Mack:"It's always something to get better at, whether I'm excelling at it or not. I can tell you that I can get off a run block and I'm good at shedding, but I can always get better."

Q: How much are you in [Justin] Tuck's ear?

Mack:"I like talking to Tuck and messing with him. I talk to him and mess with him all the time. You can see me out on the field, I'm always bugging him about something. He's always teaching me lessons and he's in my ear as well, so it's always great to have that type of guy in the locker room. He's a standup guy. I like to mess with him, but he's like a big brother now."

Q: What's the main thing that he repeats to you throughout the season?

Mack:"The main thing that he repeats to me, he reminds me whenever we're arguing that I'm not going to win [laughing]. He's like, 'You know you're not going to win,' and I'm like, 'Cool. I know.'"

Q: How does Khalil Mack today compare to the guy who started the season?

Mack:"I've grown a lot. Opening day, it was nerve-racking, but that's calmed down a lot. Knowing the fans that we have here and knowing how they support us and all those different things, you want to go out and do your best, and that has changed from me being nervous, to me going out and trying to do everything I can to make them happy and put a smile on my face at the end of the game with a win."

Q: They talk about the game slowing down. Have you experienced that, and what has that been like?

Mack:"It's been pretty cool to see the transition from the game moving fast to it starting to slow down, and I'm starting to key a lot of different things and read a lot of different things and see how people are scheming, and pretty much knowing how the game works at this level."

Q: Can you give any examples?

Mack:"Specifically, the game slows down when you have different things you read throughout the week, prepare for a different thing and knowing the way they set up and knowing the way that they run block versus the way that they pass block and just putting all those things together and knowing how teams are going to scheme you just because of what type of defense you are. Just working on those things."

Q: What does it feel like to be so young in the league, but to know that there are teams out there that have to game plan against you, or you know they're doing things specifically to remove you from the equation?

Mack:"It's a little frustrating because you want to get in there and let people know you're actually in the game, but at the same time, it's a testament to hard work and preparation and knowing that if they were to come where I was, I'd be on the tackle or trying to make a play."

Q: It's better for the fans to know how dangerous you are than just the other team to know?

Mack:"Oh yeah. It works hand-in-hand, but it's a team game, so I'm just working on being the best teammate I can be."

Q: Do you think anyone back in Buffalo would be surprised at how much you've changed in the last year since you've been away?

Mack:"I don't think anybody would think I've changed. If anything, I'm the same Khalil Mack, I think other than me being here in Oakland."

Q: Do you know what the Butterfly Effect is?

Mack:"What's that?"

Q: A butterfly flaps its wings on some other side of the planet and maybe a little bit of pollen doesn't fall in the right spot and it turns into things and changes the course of everything going on around it. Without Buffalo, going to UB, do you ever stop and think what the effect would have been?

Mack:"That's pretty wild that you bring that up, man. I think about that sometimes. Yeah, it would have been different, but at the same time, knowing how hard I work and the mentality that I have. I probably would have been somewhere close to Oaktown."

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