Defensive End Khalil Mack
Heading into his third season in the NFL, and coming off a breakout season in 2015, defensive end Khalil Mack's preseason work likely ended Saturday night as the team fell at home to the Tennessee Titans 27-14.
If Mack is indeed done for the preseason, the stud defensive end definitely got his work in through the first three games, totaling five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits. Now though, he realizes it's time to let the younger players enjoy their time in the spotlight, as the Raiders wrap up the preseason Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
"I'm excited for the younger guys, get to see them take advantage of this opportunity," said Mack. "One of these opportunities only come so many times in a lifetime. You're getting to see Shilique [Calhoun] and all those guys go out there and be aggressive and play for a long period of time. It's going to be exciting to see and see how they make plays."
The key in the preseason finale – outside of coming out of the game healthy – is to see progression in the younger players that will get a majority of the snaps, and heading into Thursday's matchup, Mack is looking forward to watching just that.
"You're talking about progression; just guys getting better," explained Mack. "Whether it's getting off the ball or whether it's making reads or whether it's stopping the run, playing off the tight ends. Just different things you see from both of those guys that you can definitely tell they could come in and make a difference. As far as playing for however many snaps they're going to have to play, they're going to be able to hold it down and play effective for us."
As solid as Mack's individual effort has been throughout the preseason, at times the team's defensive unit as a whole has struggled, particularly in stopping the run. In Saturday's loss to the Titans, the Silver and Black allowed 132 yards on the ground, and that's a number that didn't sit too well with the dynamic defensive end.
"Stopping the run is just an attitude," said Mack. "It's something that we take pride in. It's going to be one of those things that it's going to get corrected immediately if it hasn't been corrected already. At the same time, just knowing how teams are going to attack us, mentally and physically, you have to be ready, and we're doing that."
The team will hold a walk thru tomorrow, before wrapping up the preseason Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT.
-With the Raiders slated to wrap up the preseason Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, Tuesday's practice served as a "Fast Friday" session, as players were on the field for an abbreviated time compared to earlier in the week.
-Both linebacker Neiron Ball and guard Kelechi Osemele went through the individual drills during practice, but did not appear to go through the team portions of Tuesday's on-field work.
-Quarterback Matt McGloin figures to get an extended run in Thursday's game with the Seahawks, and following Tuesday's practice, he spoke about his goals for the preseason finale.
"For this game, I just want to go out, play well, sustain drives, and move the chains, and make smart decisions," McGloin said. "As long as I can make smart decisions, be accurate with the football, be decisive with my decision making, and play well, we'll see. We'll go from there."
-Even the defensive players work on their hands. While the team was going through its stretching portion of practice, Mack, along with defensive end Justin "Jelly" Ellis, and linebacker Bruce Irvin all caught passes from assistant special teams coach Tracy Smith, working on tucking the ball in close their bodies. I must say, all three looked pretty confident catching the rock.
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