OAKLAND -- Khalil Mack bull rushed his way into the pocket, broke to the inside and brought down Detroit Lions quarterback Kellen Moore.
The outside linebacker’s first professional sack attracted little fanfare, in essence deserving just partial credit for coming against the Lions’ third string. The No. 5 overall pick stopped a rusher with similar moves on the next play, concluding a productive outburst that’s been rare this preseason.
Those were his only two tackles from Friday’s 27-26 victory over the Detroit Lions at O.co Coliseum. In the first half, against guys who will survive to see the regular season, Mack was invisible.
He was similarly cloaked a week ago in Minnesota when he had just two tackles despite playing deeper into games than his fellow starters. It wasn’t just stats. He was late to recognize and adjust to opponent attacks, leaving him unable to help more on defense.
Friday’s effort was a bit better.
“There wasn’t a ton of production from a standpoint of tackles or assists or sacks or whatever the case may be, but I thought he made improvement from where he was at last week,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ll have plenty more opportunities to do different things and give him maybe a little bit more involved early in the game. He wasn’t playing in the nickel. … Really early in the game he was really limited as far as the snaps that he took. But Khalil Mack is going to be just fine.”
While he wasn’t involved in the first-team nickel defense, Allen said he would be part of that unit in the regular season.
For the time being, the Raiders are playing Mack more than most, regardless of personnel package, in effort to aid his progress.
“The only way you can get better is to get experience,” Allen said. “I know he was a high draft choice, but he needs to play and that’s the only way he’s going to get better. So I don’t know exactly what the rep count was but it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 plays or so, which is about where we wanted him to be.”