ALAMEDA -- Khalil Mack has a sack dance choreographed in his mind, though it’s a rough draft. We haven’t seen version 1.0 yet because the rookie edge rusher hasn’t had cause to bust it out.
The No. 5 overall pick doesn’t have a sack through seven games. While we all know Mack’s value can’t be described by a sack total -- the dude has been dominant in all aspects -- he’d sure like one already.
“It’s something that’s kind of sitting on my mind,” Mack said on Monday. “All my teammates talk about it. It will come soon enough but even then I’m working hard to get there.”
This is, after all, someone who created a list of high-profile quarterbacks he wanted to sack during his young career.
There's not a single name checked off, but signal callers always know where No. 52 is. Mack is already one of the league’s best run defenders. He ranks No. 13 in quarterback pressure per pass-rush attempt.
Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer heaped praise on Mack without being asked saying the rookie has earned universal respect in the Browns locker room after recording seven tackles, two for losses, and four quarterback pressures in a 23-13 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano routinely lauds Mack’s work ethic and ability, but he took praise a step further after Sunday’s dominant performance.
“Khalil Mack was simply outstanding yesterday,” he said. “I mean like really, really good. He’s going to be measured in whether or not he sacks the quarterback, but I would just say that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen somebody do that in the run game.
“What he did yesterday in the run game to an opponent was incredible. Khalil has just really dominated.”
Mack isn’t deaf. He hears the praise, he just can’t enjoy accolades without a victory.
“It’s gratifying in a personal aspect, but you want to go out and win the game,” Mack said. “It can mean something once you stamp a win. But we’re still working on that win. All you see from me out there is hunger for a win.”
Respect comes with a price. Teams have been plotting against him since Week 1, to prevent him from making big plays.
“It’s the game of football. You’re going to get schemed against,” Mack said. “You’re going to get different looks and blocks. You’re going to get doubled here and doubled there, but you have to overcome those things. That’s what you get paid to do.”
He takes pride his progress as an all-around linebacker. He’s always excelled knocking blockers back and making plays in the backfield.
Dropping a quarterback or a rusher behind does more than create a loss. It provides a spark, something the Raiders need now more than ever.
That’s in his job description as well, which is why he wants sacks in addition to his solid play as a three-down linebacker. He wants to fire up the crowd, create havoc for opponent and increase team morale.
The 0-7 start to his career was unexpected to be sure, but it hasn’t hindered his personal progress.
“You can’t think about losing,” Mack said. “You have to think about progressing and getting better, especially from a personal aspect. You can only control what you do every week. I try to do my job. We’re all forward focused, and we’re all thinking about next week and trying to go get that next win.”