Khalil Mack playing catch-up at OTAs

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
8:00
AM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The way Khalil Mack sees it, attending the NFLPA’s three-day Rookie Premiere event last week in Los Angeles was part of his growing process, even if it cost him valuable OTA time with the Oakland Raiders.

“I missed two days, and that’s in the back of my head, but I’m doing everything it takes mentally to be ready,” Mack told ESPN.com following Monday’s OTA practice.

“But it was great to get to meet so many guys and get an understanding of what the NFLPA is all about. It was three days of workshops, pictures, interviews, giving us an insight into what life as a professional is going to be like and doing what it can to help us.”

Mack, the No. 5 overall pick, was one of at least 42 rookies selected for the symposium, the lone Raiders player.

And while he got back to practice Monday, he has already made an impression on his new teammates. Even if the Raiders are still nearly two months away from putting on the pads and hitting.

“I’ve watched him a couple of times come off the edge,” said free safety Charles Woodson, “and he’s a guy that can bend at the waist, he can get low. He can get under tackles as he’s going around the edge. He’s quick enough to where he can get a guy in space coming off the edge. He can make movements in or out and go either way, and he seems to be put together pretty well, so we know he has some strength.

“It will be great to see him in action when it really goes down. We all have high hopes for him, because he’s only going to make us better as a team. I look forward to playing alongside him.”

In the Raiders’ 4-3 base defense, Mack has been working at strongside linebacker while last year’s starter at the SAM, Sio Moore, has slid over to the weak side.

Moore, the Raiders’ third-round draft pick last season, has also been impressed with Mack’s appearance, granted, in such a small sample size.

“He’s a good athlete and he’s a good kid,” said Moore, who is nearly nine months older than Mack. “He’s a smart dude and we’re all in here working together and the more people that you can get on board, the more things we can do.

“The biggest part is really about learning and really honing in our craft and understanding the playbook and he’s doing a good job, as well as everybody, so we just have to keep it up.”

And yes, Mack is standing by his claim to the NFL Network that it is Peyton Manning who he is most looking forward to sacking this fall.

“No doubt,” Mack said. “That’s a goal of mine, to sack greatness.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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