Khalil Mack 'learned' things in NFL debut

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
3:00
PM ET
Though it might be accurate to say Khalil Mack did not have a game-changing debut in the Oakland Raiders' exhibition opener Friday night at Minnesota, it might also be a tad unfair.

Mack, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, did have two tackles, one for a loss, while playing into the second quarter against the Vikings. It’s just that not much was actually, well, anticipated out of the starting strongside linebacker by his coaches.

“I think you saw a guy that is a rookie that was playing in his first game,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said in a conference call with reporters on Saturday. “A couple of times we activated him on rushes and he was able to cause some disruption. But then there were some times where, a little bit in the run game and a little bit in the pass game, he is just a little bit late in reacting to his responsibility.

“I don’t want them doing a whole lot of thinking; I want them just really basically reacting to what they see and go play football.”

Mack said after the game it felt like “kind of a relief” to be playing in a game, exhibition or not.

“Get out there and get back to playing football,” he said, “but at the same time, still (have) some sense of wanting to get better.”

Mack has been compared to Von Miller by Allen and to Clay Matthews by Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Against the Vikings, Mack looked like a guy making his NFL debut and showing the occasional flash.

“I mean, you could say I settled in,” Mack said. “I got better today. (I) learned a lot of things.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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