JERSEY CITY, NJ –- Last time Khalil Mack was in the New York City area, he was drafted No. 5 overall by the Oakland Raiders.
The span between then and now has been a blur.
“A lot has happened since May,” Mack said. “Time has been moving pretty fast. I can tell you one thing: there’s never a dull moment.
The talent-rich outside linebacker has gone through a full offseason program, training camp and preseason, with shockingly high expectations meeting him at every turn.
Mack doesn’t mind. He understands it comes with the territory, but they don’t add pressure or stress to his work.
“Nobody has higher expectations than me,” Mack told CSN Bay Area on Friday, after an afternoon practice at Cochrane Field in Jersey City, NJ. “I want to go out and make a big impact in every game. I’m extremely confident in my ability to do that.”
The Raiders are too. Head coach Dennis Allen has likened Mack to Denver Broncos edge rusher Von Miller. General manager Reggie McKenzie has drawn parallels between Mack and Green Bay’s Clay Matthews.
Mack has heard them all, but he’d prefer to blaze his own trail.
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“I’m a different player in a different system,” Mack said. “I’ve been compared to good players, but I want to go out and be the best Khalil Mack I can be. My job is not to go out and be exactly like Von Miller or anybody else. I’m going to be and play my way. Hopefully I can do that on Sunday and make plays and help this team.”
The Raiders will certainly give him a chance. Coaches have bombarded him with information before carefully crafting a unique blitz package for him that will be unveiled in part during Sunday’s regular-season opener against the New York Jets.
“We’re definitely excited,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “Khalil, when he goes fast and really starts the down fast, you’ve seen some really good things from him in the preseason. The biggest thing for him is going fast. What’s great about him is he doesn’t like to be wrong, like you guys have heard me say, so that allows us to do some (creative) things with him.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan watched film of Mack before the draft, and knew right away he wasn’t going to New York.
“We watched one tape and I’m like, huh, good luck we’ll never see this kid (when the Jets selected at No. 18),” Ryan said. “He’s a guy that has an unbelievable amount of talent. He can do it all. He can rush the passer, play coverage, scores when he gets picks. His movement skills are outstanding. He plays with a certain passion. That’s why we knew we’d never get a chance to draft him.”
Mack was never making it past the Raiders, who craved a defensive playmaker who can create havoc up front.
They certainly got one in Mack.
While the expectations are as high as expected for a No. 5 pick, he’s been overshadowed of late by the decision to start second-round pick Derek Carr at quarterback.
Mack will also be counted on to produce right away, which is a role he relishes.
“I’m confident in what I can do and I can’t wait to go do it in a regular season game,” Mack said. “I’m excited to go out and get this win.”