Defensive End Khalil Mack
It's no secret, after a resurgent effort in 2015 the Oakland Raiders are a trendy pick to earn their way back into the postseason this year, but a future Hall of Famer doesn't think they'll just return to the playoffs – he thinks they're going to win Super Bowl LI.
Charles Woodson is only a few months removed from wearing the Silver and Black, and over the last several months the now-ESPN analyst has seamlessly transitioned from player to pundit, but as the saying goes, Once a Raider, Always a Raider.
Ahead of Thursday night's official kickoff to the 2016 regular season, ESPN released its commentators' predictions for the Super Bowl LI, and of the 40 analysts polled, just one picked the Raiders to win the Super Bowl – Woodson. The former Raider predicted that the Silver and Black would beat the Green Bay Packers – the other team Woodson played for during his 18-year career – and also think that the league MVP will be defensive end Khalil Mack.
Woodson spent the first two seasons of Mack's career with him in Oakland, and after being told of the prediction, the newly-named defensive captain responded.
"Oh, man, that's what's up," said Mack. "Very high expectations. That's big bro. He's always setting his standards high. [He's] a Hall of Fame guy himself; can't help but to try to reach those expectations, because in our eyes that's where we want to be."
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. was also asked about Woodson's prediction during his Thursday press conference, and shared his two cents about the statements.
"Charles [Woodson], you know we have a lot of respect for Charles," Norton said. "He's certainly implanted a print on what we're doing here. He's put a finger print and hand print on the young players here and he's really set a high standard. We can only hope to play at the standard he plays at."
Mack and the rest of the Raiders will be back on the field Friday morning, before flying to New Orleans to take on the Saints Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. PT.
T - Austin Howard - Ankle - Did not participate
-Howard once again missed practice, but besides the veteran swing tackle, every member of the Raiders was able to participate in Thursday's practice.
-Wide receiver Andre Holmes certainly has a penchant for impressive, sideline catches, so how did he get so good at hauling in those passes? Practice.
Before Thursday's practice, Holmes spent a few minute grabbing passes, working on dragging his toes before going out of bounds.
-Time and time again, we hear about how much of a freak athlete linebacker Bruce Irvin is, and Thursday afternoon he showed off just a little bit. During the team's stretching portion of practice, Irvin easily executed a handstand, holding the pose for a few seconds before calmly springing out of it and returning to his feet.
Taiwan Jones doesn't mind playing in a raucous environment; and in fact, he likes it.
"I feed off that. I'm sure the defense feeds off that, and hearing the quarterback saying he feeds off that, it just shows the group of guys we have here. We like that."
Ken Norton Jr. talks about what has impressed him about Reggie Nelson.
"Reggie really is obsessed with playing ball. He really cares about winning. He hasn't stayed around this long, he's played a long time and has a lot of ball under his belt. He hasn't stayed around this long without loving what he does. He has a real strong passion for the game, always trying to improve and it's recognizable."
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