NAPA – Khalil Mack isn’t with the Raiders in training camp. The elite edge rusher is holding out for a long-term contract that could set the market for defensive players, and has stayed away from his team since the offseason program started back in April.
He hasn’t practiced under Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. He doesn’t know all Guenther has in store for Mack. He won’t be anchored to one edge, ordered to see ball carrier, kill ball carrier.
“When he gets here, he’s going to find out that he’ll have a lot of new matchups,” Guenther said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “We have an ability to move him around. We have guys like Bruce Irvin and Arden Key, who can move around as rushers, too. They won’t always know where Khalil is at when we play on Sundays.
“Hopefully, when everything gets rectified here and we get rolling, he’ll see that.”
It remains uncertain when Mack will report to the Raiders. A deal is not close, and Mack seems set on staying away until a pact is reached. That may change if the impasse gets close to the regular season and the loss of game checks, owed as part of a $13.846 million fifth-year option he’s owed in 2018, becomes a real thing.
Guenther isn’t concerned about all that. He wants Mack in camp posthaste, but has a plan for whenever the Raiders’ best player does arrive. Guenther will teach a crash course in his scheme to get him as ready as possible to make an immediate impact.
While the nature of Mack’s position and him being in impeccable shape will help him return, he’ll operate within a new system with new terminology. Guenther will personally get him up to speed.
“When he shows up, I’ll be his position coach for about a week,” Guenther said. “I’ll catch him up. We have a plan for that. Hopefully he can get here sooner than later. If that doesn’t occur, then we’ve got some guys out here working their tails off and competing and we’ll roll with them.”
Guenther expects to roll with a speed rushing package during obvious passing downs that could include Mack, Irvin, Key and the hottest interior rusher between Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall or Mario Edwards.
“I look forward to seeing that one day,” Guenther said. “If that works, I won’t have draw up crazy blitzes to reach the quarterback. That’s ideal, because teams who win the NFL can rush four and get home. They have seven guys in coverage and they don’t give up explosive plays. Having guys like that we can roll through can make us more disruptive.”