Khalil Mack’s week of firsts continued Friday.
The Oakland Raiders’ first-round draft pick went through his first rookie minicamp practice at the team’s training facility in Alameda, Calif.
“It was a long wait, but it was exciting to be out there playing football again,” said Mack, the University at Buffalo product who on Thursday became the first player drafted in the top 10 this year to sign his rookie contract. “I’m focused on football and being the best player I can be. That process is done, and I’m ready to go play football. … I can’t wait until we put the pads on. In the meantime, I’m excited to work with some great coaches and a great staff.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said there’s a difference between seeing Mack on tape and in person.
“It’s hard to really get a great feel for the player when you just see him on tape. To really get up close and personal and see him live, you get a better feel for who he is,” Allen said. “He’s exactly what we thought he was going to be. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him. He’s got a lot of getting better to do, but he’s got a tremendous skill set, and I would expect a pretty quick assimilation into the National Football League.”
Mack said the coaching staff hasn’t eased the rookies into the process, giving them plenty of the playbook to digest.
“They’re doing that on purpose. They’re dumping a bunch of stuff on you to see how you adapt and how much you can handle,” he said. “They want to see if you can play under pressure, and they want to see how you respond. It’s been great. I’m excited to learn all about this scheme.”
Allen said Mack was determined not to let his contract, which runs four years and is worth $18.67 million guaranteed, become a possible distraction.
“With the rookie wage scale, there’s not a ton of negotiation that goes on. I think he’s of the mindset, his family was of the mindset, they wanted to get all that out of the way, get that settled, and just concentrate on football,” the coach said. “He is certainly a football-first guy. He not only is a tremendous athlete, but he’s the type of guy we’re looking for from a personal character standpoint and from a football character standpoint.”
Mack, who will change from the No. 46 he wore with the Bulls to No. 52 with the Raiders, said he’s considering applying for the special facemask he wore at UB – one similar to the one worn by current teammate Justin Tuck.
“There was a reason I wore it in college, to keep hands out of your face and keep you from getting neck injuries from getting pulled around, so we’ll see,” Mack said.
Mack and his new teammates have two more days of rookie minicamp.
“I was pleased with all of the draft picks that we were able to pick up last weekend,” Allen said. “I saw some things with Khalil with his athleticism and his quickness, as well as his power.”