NAPA – Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack wore No. 46 in college to equal a dismal rating in the “NCAA Football” video game. He amended the motivational tool in the pros.
“Madden 25” gave him an 81 rating, a number reserved for NFL receivers. He’ll have to stick with No. 52, which he chose in homage to Ray Lewis shortly after being selected fifth overall in the NFL draft.
“I couldn’t avoid seeing that on Twitter the other day,” Mack said. “It was all over the place. That’s exciting, but I’m looking forward to getting better than an 81.”
The Madden rating – No. 3 among NFL rookies -- is proof that expectations are high for the phenom from the University of Buffalo many consider among the most NFL-ready players in the draft.
[RELATED: Raiders training camp preview: Linebackers]
They don’t seem to phase him. Neither does anything in the series of “firsts” he’s experienced since being drafted in May.
That counts Wednesday’s arrival at Napa Valley Marriott for his first NFL training camp. He stepped off the bus and didn’t even crack a smile while checking in. He said there were no nerves on the bus ride from Alameda.
“I don’t want to say that I’m calm, but I am taking it all day by day,” Mack said. "All this media stuff is new to me, but I’ve been playing football for a while now. (The game) doesn’t change. This is what I love to do.”
[RELATED: Meet the Rookies: Khalil Mack]
With great expectation comes increased scrutiny. Mack’s been dealing with it since entering the pre-draft process. Recent media attention is far greater than at Buffalo, a college football program tucked into a sleepy section of Western New York.
“It’s new, but I’m dealing with it in a way,” Mack said while surrounded by a populous media scrum. “It’s all part of the process. It’s all part of the job and part of being a professional.”
Mack is focused on playing football above all else, far more than the fanfare that surrounds his rookie season.
“I’m excited to put on pads and get the feel of the game again,” Mack said. “It’s been, like, six months since that happened, and I can’t wait.”