Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack missing as Raiders mandatory minicamp begins

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AP

Khalil Mack missing as Raiders mandatory minicamp begins

ALAMEDA -- Khalil Mack isn’t in the Bay Area, wasn’t present Tuesday to begin the Raiders’ mandatory minicamp, and isn’t expected for any part of the three-day session.

That decision’s part of Mack’s decision to skip the team’s offseason program while waiting for a big-money contract extension. He missed the strength and conditioning workouts and OTAs. Those sessions were voluntary.

This minicamp is not. The offseason program’s capper is mandatory, which officially makes Mack a holdout.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden isn't thrilled about it, but he isn't losing sleep over Mack missing three practices in June. He would, however, love to see him working in Paul Guenther's defense. 

"One of the big reasons I came here was to coach that man," Gruden said Tuesday afternoon. "I don’t want to speculate. There are several guys around the league in similar situations. We’re trying to resolve it as soon as possible and, in the meantime, coach the players that are here."

The Raiders can fine him for missing the entire minicamp, though fines are levied at team discretion and can be erased down the line if they are given.

While Gruden wouldn't discuss whether the Raiders would fine Mack, such financial penalties won’t be a significant issue for either side. Mack and the Raiders want to work out a contract extension this offseason. Total compensation is obviously the sticking point. Mack could easily set the market for defensive players. NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche said earlier this offseason he was looking for $65 million guaranteed – Von Miller got $70 million guaranteed from Denver two years ago – on what could be a nine-figure contract.

The Raiders budgeted for Mack’s big payday, but are trying to find a balance and way to pay him, quarterback Derek Carr and several high-priced offensive lineman while maintaining a level of future financial flexibility under the salary cap.

Mack is currently under contract, set to make $13.84 million under a fifth-year team option available for first-round draft picks. It if fully guaranteed.

Mack doesn’t want to risk injury in an offseason practice. If he suffers a serious injury, the mega deal could vanish before his eyes.

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is in a similar position, choosing to skip offseason work looking for a new deal. The first player in this pair to sign could set a market the other could exceed, creating a slow play that might impact the timing of both deals.

The Raiders hope Mack signs before training camp starts in late July. Both Carr and right guard Gabe Jackson signed in the dead period between the offseason program and training camp.

It’s uncertain if Mack’s deal will get done in time. While he hasn’t been part of the Raiders offseason program under new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, there’s no doubt he remains in excellent shape. Guenther said he’ll have a plan to catch Mack up once he arrives, especially after missing so much scheme installation. Mack’s absence isn’t a serious concern at this stage, but that could change if the stalemate carries well into training camp.

His presence is missed by teammates, but they know prime Khalil Mack will be ready when he returns. 

"He’s taking care of his situation, and we respect it," safety Karl Joseph said. "The other guys have done a good job learning the system, but you can’t replace a guy like Khalil. When he’s ready to come back, we’ll be ready for him." 

Mack will have 'a lot of catching up to do' learning new Raiders defense

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USATSI

Mack will have 'a lot of catching up to do' learning new Raiders defense

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack wasn’t present for the Raiders latest OTA session. No shocker, there.

The elite edge rusher has skipped the entire offseason program waiting for a big-money contract extension to get worked out. Both Mack and the Raiders want a deal done, but pacts of this magnitude often take time.

Mack isn’t risking injury before something gets locked down. To this point, he hasn’t missed anything mandatory. The offseason program is voluntary, though he could be subject to fines for missing next week’s three-day mandatory minicamp.

It’s uncertain, yet unexpected for Mack to show up without a contract. Even that’s of little concern in the grand scheme, considering Mack’s work ethic and commitment to maintaining peak physical condition.

These spring sessions are more important than usual, however, with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther installing a new scheme.

“He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do,” Guenther said Tuesday. “We’re going to have to have a plan for that for sure. Really, I’m really concerned about the guys that are here now working.”

Guenther hopes Mack will be back working with his team soon, but doesn’t know when that will happen.

“He’ll have to work that out. I don’t get involved too much,” Guenther said. “Like I said, I coach the guys that are here.”

Mack is set to play the 2018 season here on a fifth-year team option worth a fully guaranteed $13.84 million. He’s set for unrestricted free agency after that – the Raiders have franchise tags available at that point – but no one expects a contract impasse to last that long.

The Raiders hope to get a deal done before training camp begins in late July, which is possibility. The team finalized long-term extensions for Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson after the offseason program ended last year.

Guenther is excited to add Mack to his defense, and has worked on creative ways to get him one-on-one matchups. That, Guenther has said, is as good as a blitz. The Raiders added talent to the defensive interior and an improved edge rotation to help take attention away from Mack, the former NFL defensive player of the year.

PRACTICE NOTES

-- Undrafted rookie Eddy Pineiro was featured exclusively during a field goal drill during Tuesday’s OTA where attempts started short and continually moved further back. The Florida alum was pretty accurate – he only missed two – during this session, where he flashed a strong leg. Pineiro put one attempt on the Raiders performance center roof, well behind goal posts he split.

Incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio watched while Pineiro took every rep, working with rookie punter, holder and fellow Florida alum Johnny Townsend. Tavecchio fared well last year, but it’s clear Pineiro will be given every chance to earn the kicker job in 2018.

-- First-round rookie Kolton Miller took quite a few first-team reps at left tackle, a position open with Donald Penn limited in his return from foot surgery. He took a few on the right side, a new development in sessions open to the press, but that spot was primarily anchored by third-round rookie Brandon Parker.

Breno Giacomini will have an inside track to the right tackle job, but Parker will compete heavily for it this summer.

-- Receiver Amari Cooper was back practicing after suffering a hamstring strain on May 22. He was working on the side last week during a session open to the press.

-- Receiver Martavis Bryant and left guard Kelechi Osemele were not present for Tuesday’s voluntary OTA session.

-- Defensive lineman Fadol Brown stood out in team drills.

“He’s been real active in there,” Guenther said. “He’s learning the defense. Just the technique and the footwork of everything we’re asking him to do. He’s going to surprise some people I think this year.”

-- Receiver Ryan Switzer is already a favorite of this coaching staff, and could be an offensive weapon if he performs well this summer. He and Dwayne Harris seem to be the frontrunners to return punts.

-- Veteran middle linebacker Derrick Johnson has taken second-year pro Nicholas Morrow under his wing, something that could significantly aid the coverage linebacker’s development.

-- Instead of running an OTA practice on Thursday, the Raiders will host a 7-on-7 prep passing league tournament at their Alameda complex. Raiders players will coach prep teams.

-- Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Maurice Hurst (Michigan) is a bit ahead of fellow rookie draft pick P.J. Hall (Sam Houston State), in large part due to his experience at a larger school.

-- The Raiders secondary had a strong practice Tuesday, highlighted by a pair of interceptions. Daryl Worley jumped a route and picked Connor Cook. Marcus Gilchrist nabbed an EJ Manuel pass tipped by Rashaan Melvin and returned it a great distance, sparking a huge celebration among defenders.

Gruden addresses Conley, Melifonwu and Worley, Carr stays in touch with Mack

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AP

Gruden addresses Conley, Melifonwu and Worley, Carr stays in touch with Mack

ALAMEDA – Top 2017 draft picks Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu haven’t been fully cleared to practice during the Raiders offseason program.

Head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday the defensive backs are nearing a return, though they didn’t participate much during the start of this week’s voluntary minicamp.

Conley, a cornerback drafted No. 24 overall, is recovering from shin surgery last winter. Melifonwu, a second-round safety, is on the mend after hip surgery.

“They participated in the morning session, the walk-through,” Gruden said. “They did some of the individual work this afternoon. They’re real close, but for obvious reasons, we’re being careful with them this early in the process.”

Conley is being counted on to start at outside cornerback, while Melifonwu must earn a role in a crowded safety group featuring Karl Joseph, Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson.

Raiders comfortable signing Worley

Cornerback Daryl Worley was practicing Tuesday, a day after signing with the Raiders. The Eagles released him following an April incident that resulted in charged of DUI, weapons possession and resisting arrest, among other things. That happened shortly after acquiring him in trade from Carolina.

The 2016 draft pick and West Virginia alum has started 25 games in two professional seasons, and could contribute if his off-field troubles don’t result in criminal punishment or an NFL suspension.

Gruden said the Raiders were comfortable bringing him aboard.

“Well we looked into it, and obviously it was an unfortunate matter,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of intel on Worley with Karl Joseph here who was his teammate at West Virginia. Bruce Irvin played at West Virginia. We have a lot of insight in him. Talked to some of his previous coaches. We think he deserves another chance. We’re happy to give him one. I think he’s learned his lesson. He has to prove that. And he can help us if he’s right.”

Mack stays away

Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack was absent from Tuesday’s practice, and isn’t expected to show up in Alameda until a big-money contract extension is complete. Gruden didn’t have an update on Mack, focusing instead on players in Alameda.

Quarterback Derek Carr has been in regular contact with Mack and understands from his own contract extension last year what his friend is going through waiting to secure his future.

“I know the feelings. I know the emotions, while still getting ready for a season,” Carr said. “I’ve been in contact with him to make sure his emotions are good, making sure he’s good, that we’re here and we love him. I don’t want him to be worried about any of that.”