Raiders

Khalil Mack 'a monster' on a roll heading into pivotal Broncos clash

Khalil Mack 'a monster' on a roll heading into pivotal Broncos clash

Khalil Mack is plugged into the present and immediate future, with no interest in strolls down memory lane. It isn’t just 0-10 the Raiders edge rusher wants to remain dead and buried. Mack doesn’t care to rehash glory days either.

He hasn’t forgotten the last time he played Denver, when he took over the Mile High City with five sacks, nine total pressures and a forced fumble in the end zone that resulted in a safety. He just isn’t interested going back there before Sunday night’s AFC West clash with Denver at Oakland Coliseum.

That, he says, has nothing to do with this.

“It’s a different team with different personnel,” Mack said. “They have some tackles in there now and a new quarterback. It’s a new challenge, a new focus for us.”

The challenge is daunting. The Raiders will face the defending Super Bowl champs on national television in a game where the country wants to see how the Raiders react under the spotlight.

While the Broncos are good, especially on defense, this clash of 6-2 teams isn’t a mismatch. Both teams have weapons.

The Raiders' best defensive player enters Sunday’s game on a high. Mack has four sacks in his last three games, a statistical surge that doesn’t accurately depict how good he has been all season.

“You guys don’t get to see the film we see,” fellow Raiders edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “The guy is a monster every week and he has to be accounted for. He has a sack in three straight games, and it’s about that time of year where he’s about to get it rolling. It’s really exciting to see.”

Last year’s game at Denver is widely recognized as Mack’s finest in two-and-a-half seasons. A stat line that influential in a victory is easily placed in the top spot.

Mack’s showing in last week’s overtime victory at Tampa Bay might be No. 2. He was awesome against the Buccaneers, using a variety of pass-rush moves to dominate up front and total two sacks, nine other pressures, seven total tackles and excellent run defense.

Mack is never one to pat himself on the back. He gave credit to the Raiders secondary for providing time to properly disrupt the quarterback. Defensive backs know covering well in the back can create game-changing havoc up front, and take pride in seeing sack totals go up.

“We’re out there and trying to cover for five or six seconds, but Khalil can get there in three,” cornerback DJ Hayden said. “We just have to cover long enough to let the pass rush do its thing.”

Mack does lots of things well. He is well known for brute strength, converting speed to power, and quick reaction and pursuit in the backfield, but it isn’t pure athleticism allowing him to beat chips and double teams and quality tackles one-on-one.

He is using diverse pass-rush moves to get home, something that was crystal clear watching his work in Tampa Bay. He owned the opposition, which never seemed comfortable identifying what Mack would do next.

That comes through Mack working his man and knowing what he’s vulnerable to and when’s the best time to take a new club out of his bag.

“You can sense it throughout a game,” Mack said. “You can sense when a guy is fatigued and could be susceptible to a certain move, or when he isn’t expecting a certain move. You can read a guy’s actions and see when he’s anticipating something. That’s when you do something else.

“It’s definitely about making reads within the matchup. We’re playing chess, not checkers, out there.”

That’s why he was so dominant last season, to the tune of 15 sacks and All-Pro honors at two different positions. That performance created insane statistical expectations that weren’t met early in the year. Mack did have a sack in the first three games and had one through five weeks.

The Raiders knew numbers were coming. It was clear on film.

“His ability to smash blocks, get off blocks, get around the quarterback, knock the quarterback down, just the effectiveness of his play, (showed how well he was doing),” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Sometimes the numbers add up and you see the production, but we see the effort and the desire and the commitment that he gives every day.”

The Broncos know firsthand that Mack can take over a football game, and are certainly wary of that.

“You certainly have to be aware of where he’s at,” Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “He’s an outstanding player and he does a lot of good things for them and Irvin on the other edge is pretty good, too. We’ll have our hands full, but we want to be aware of No. 52 at all times, I’ll say that.”

Raiders snap count: McDonald steps in, plays a ton vs. Broncos

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AP

Raiders snap count: McDonald steps in, plays a ton vs. Broncos

ALAMEDA – Clinton McDonald signed with the Raiders on Wednesday, but didn’t practice until the following afternoon. A few days later, he played 52 snaps. 

Nobody on the defensive line played more, an effort required after the defensive tackle spot endured an injury plague. Justin Ellis is now on IR. P.J. Hall missed Sunday’s 20-19 loss to Denver, and is expected to miss another week at least. 

McDonald graded out well, per Pro Football Focus, and had two tackles and two quarterback pressures against the Broncos. He did get cleared out to open a rushing lane for Phillip Lindsay’s 53-yard scamper.

The Raiders had to work a new player in on the inside, including three players who had been with the team less than two weeks. McDonald, Brian Price and Johnathan Hankins helped Maurice Hurst work on the defensive interior. 

McDonald played a major role, despite precious little prep. 

“We were in a tough spot yesterday, certainly with [Brian] Price playing for the first time," Jon Gruden said. "Hankins and Clinton basically just showing up before the game. He did a heck of a job. He not only played a lot of snaps, he played some good snaps against the run and he gave us a little bit of pass rush in there. That’s been his history. He can play the nose or the three-technique and that’s what he did yesterday.”

This rotation will hold for some time, though Hankins’ workload should increase as time wears on. Hall will be welcomed back with open arms when healthy, especially as an interior pass rusher. 

There’s some shuffling going on at safety, where Erik Harris took some defensive snaps from Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson. It’s clear 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph is down on the depth chart at this stage, another blow for recent Raiders draft classes. 

Martavis Bryant was active in his first game back with the Raiders, totaling four catches for 40 yards on 26 snaps. His presence helped the passing game as a whole, with receptions and clearing space for others like Amari Cooper. 

“His presence out there makes a difference,” Gruden said. 

Offense
Total offensive snaps: 65
Quarterback – Derek Carr 65
Running back – Marshawn Lynch 42, Doug Martin 16, Jalen Richard 8, Keith Smith 8
Wide receiver – Jordy Nelson 54, Amari Cooper 54, Martavis Bryant 26, Seth Roberts 22, Brandon LaFell 7
Tight end – Jared Cook 52, Lee Smith 22, Derek Carrier 11
Offensive line – Donald Penn 65, Gabe Jackson 65, Kolton Miller 65, Rodney Hudson 65, Kelechi Osemele 65, Jon Feliciano 3
 
Defense
Total defensive snaps: 65
Defensive line – Clinton McDonald 52, Bruce Irvin 49, Arden Key 42, Maurice Hurst 37, Frostee Rucker 28, Tank Carradine 24, Johnathan Hankins 18, Brian Price 17 
Linebacker – Tahir Whitehead 63, Derrick Johnson 43, Marquel Lee 25, Emmanuel Lamur 14
Defensive back – Rashaan Melvin 64, Gareon Conley 64, Leon Hall 55, Marcus Gilchrist 53, Reggie Nelson 48, Erik Harris 26, Karl Joseph 3
 
Special teams
Total special teams plays: 22
Erik Harris 22, Marquel Lee 22, Kyle Wilber 22, Carrier 22, Nick Morrow 18, K. Smith 18, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 15, L. Smith 10, Richard 10, Gilchrist 9, Mike Nugent 9, Johnny Townsend 8, Trent Sieg 8, Melvin 7, Martin 5, Rucker 5, Brandon Parker 4, Penn 4, Miller 4, Feliciano 4, Whitehead 4, Osemele 4, Nelson 4, McDonald 4, Irvin 4, Nelson 4. Hall 3, Murst 3, Carradine 3, Key 1 

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers up, Raiders down after Week 2

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers up, Raiders down after Week 2

1. Tampa Bay (2-0)
Previous rank: 21
 
“We’ve just got to make sure we stay humble.” -- Ryan Fitzpatrick


2. L.A. Rams (2-0)
Previous rank: 2

L.A. loves a winner. That bandwagon’s gonna fill up pretty fast. 

3. Jacksonville (2-0)
Previous rank: 7
 
Blake Bortles threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. You might assume that was for the entire 2017 season. Or his career. Nope, just one thrashing of the Patriots. Jags are the new AFC team to beat. 
 
4. Kansas City (2-0)
Previous rank: 5
 
That Mahomes kid has 10 touchdown passes in two weeks. He’s gonna be a superstar. 
 
5. Minnesota (1-0-1)
Previous rank: 3
 
Best part of any Monday press conference? Mike Zimmer, on being asked why he cut his kicker: “Did you see the game?”
 
6. New England (1-1)
Previous rank: 3
 
Patriots counting lucky stars Jacksonville didn’t play like that in last year’s AFC title game. Jaguars had ‘em shook. 
 
7. Green Bay (1-0-1)
Previous rank: 6
 
That Clay Matthews penalty was absurd. Pretty hard to play defense these days. 
 
8. Philadelphia (1-1)
Previous rank: 1
 
Nick Foles wrote a book this offseason. Hope he sold a lot of copies. He’s headed back to the backup spot the second Carson Wentz gets cleared. 
 
9. L.A. Chargers (1-1)
Previous rank: 11
 
Philip Rivers has the offensive flowing like a category 5 rapid. 
 
10. Cincinnati (2-0)
Previous rank: 18
 
Bengals believe they’ll be just fine without Joe Mixon. Say that too many times and you’ll get committed. 
 
11. Denver (2-0)
Previous rank: 17
 
Something lost in the buzz around Marquette King’s ridiculous Jon Gruden troll video: He had to go on Amazon or to a mall and buy a Chucky doll. Probably weeks ago. This troll job was calculated. Pre-meditated. And pretty darn petty.  
 
12. Atlanta (1-1)
Previous rank: 12
 
Falcons still miss Kyle Shanahan. Maybe a little less than normal after Tevin Coleman went off. 
 
13. New Orleans (1-1)
Previous rank: 8
 
Saints nearly marched into a loss. To Cleveland, of all teams. New Orleans is lucky the Browns kicker stinks. Or stunk. Dude got cut. 
 
14. Baltimore (1-1)
Previous rank: 9
 
Ravens lost a tight one to the Bengals. Just a thought: Maybe they should cover A.J. Green. 
 
15. Carolina (1-1)
Previous rank: 12
 
So, let me get this straight. A defender gets ejected for a vicious hit on Cam Newton, then the rough-and-tumble QB goes right back in? Cam lucky to escape with only a shiner. Panthers, too. 
 
16. Pittsburgh (0-1-1)
Previous rank: 13
 
Steelers have so much talent, and so much turmoil brewing just beneath the surface. There’s a powder keg in western PA. A few more disappointing results and it will explode. 
 
17. Miami 
Previous rank: 22
 
Once again, the Dolphins are our lowest rated team without a loss. Somebody tell me how they’re winning games? They can easily snag a third against the Raiders in the Florida heat. . 
 
18. Chicago (1-1)
Previous rank: 19
 
Khalil Mack has played on national television his first two weeks in Chicago. Bet he sold a lot of jerseys as the country begins to realize he’s the best defensive player on Planet Earth. 
 
19. 49ers (1-1)
Previous rank: 20
 
The 49ers won a game that Richard Sherman says felt like a loss. He’s right. The Santa Clarans deserve to be 0-2. Squeaked one out against the Lions, though Jimmy G looks a little less handsome than he did this summer. 
 
20. Tennessee (1-1)
Previous rank: 24
 
The Titans won a game with Blaine Gabbert at the helm. Give Mike Vrabel a medal. 
 
21. Indianapolis (1-1)
Previous rank: 29 
 
Andrew Luck always gives his team a chance. 
 
22. Washington (1-1)
Previous rank: 10
 
The Washington football is schizophrenic. Good one week, unwatchable the next. And yeah, I know I have teams bobbing up and down these power rankings. I’m a mystery that way. 
 
23. N.Y. Jets (1-1)
Previous rank: 16
 
A rookie quarterback played well one week and terrible the next? Get right out of town. Sam Darnold’s gonna have to experience some growing pains. 
 
24. Houston (0-2)
Previous rank: 14
 
Losing to Blaine Gabbert gets you dropped like its hot. Come on, Houston. Be better. 
 
25. Dallas (1-1)
Previous rank: 26
 
Beating the Giants doesn’t make you good. Cowboys have plenty left to prove. 
 
26. Seattle (0-2)
 
Poor Russell Wilson. Seahawks are going to waste some prime years tearing this team down. 
 
27. Raiders (0-2)
Previous rank: 23
 
Derek Carr can’t win games all by himself. It seems like he could use an excellent defensive player creating havoc, a bonafide closer off the edge. Gosh. How could the Raiders find someone like that…
 
28. Detroit (0-2)
Previous rank: 28
 
49ers tried to hand Detroit a win. The Lions slapped it away with a crummy defensive holding call. 
 
29. N.Y. Giants (0-2)
 
Previous rank: 27
 
Big Blue has all these flashy toys, yet can’t give Eli one second to get them the gosh darn ball. Giants can’t protect a statue signal caller. Hard to imagine him staying healthy all year. 
 
30. Cleveland (0-1-1)
 
Previous rank: 31
 
The Browns find new and entertaining ways to choke each week. Here’s to hoping they never get good. Every league needs a punching bag. 
 
31. Cardinals (0-2)
Previous rank: 30
 
So apparently Mike McCoy might lose his job over David Johnson’s usage. Here’s a hint. Snap the ball. Hand it to him. Watch magic happen. 
 
32. Buffalo (0-2)
Previous rank: 32
 
The Bills are so bad Vontae Davis retired at halftime. Couldn’t take it anymore. 
 
Calling my shot right now: Bills will never, ever, get out of the 32nd slot.