ALAMEDA (AP) — Raiders rookie linebacker Khalil Mack has spent plenty of time this week watching video of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
As part of his weekly routine, Mack also made it a point to watch some footage of Broncos linebacker Von Miller and defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
The fifth overall pick in the draft, Mack has drawn many comparisons to Miller, primarily because they play the same position. The two currently sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, however.
Miller is second in the NFL with nine sacks and has the Broncos perched atop the AFC West. Mack, despite getting glowing praise from opposing coaches and players, has yet to register his first career sack playing for a team still searching for its first win of the season.
Given that, it made sense to Mack to watch as much video of Miller and Ware as he could.
“You’re talking about some special edge rushers when you speak of those guys,” Mack said. “You have to look at what they do. You have to take things here and there, that’s part of the game.”
Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said there are similarities between Mack and Miller but noted the differences: Miller has a phenomenal burst off his first step and uses the speed to get around opposing linemen, whereas Mack relies more on his power and strength.
“Khalil does some things that maybe those other guys don’t do quite as good and they do some things that maybe he doesn’t do quite as well yet,” Tarver said. “I do know that both guys can cause havoc. We’re really excited to have the one that we have in our program.”
Mack has been on an accelerated learning curve the past two months. While Mack has yet to get his first sack, he has 51 tackles and has been a disruptive force against the run.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Brian Hoyer of the Browns both talked highly of Mack after playing against the Raiders earlier this season. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been equally impressed with the Raiders rookie.
The biggest praise for Mack, though, might have come this week when Denver coach John Fox was asked about him.
Fox, who spent two seasons as the Raiders’ defensive coordinator from 1994-95, noted the high volume of plays he’s watched in which opponents have blatantly held Mack to prevent him from getting to the quarterback.
“I know a lot has been made that he hasn’t had a sack but I think he might lead the league in holding penalties versus him,” Fox said. “He’s tremendous and a guy that we’re very aware of.”
Mack acknowledged that getting held can be frustrating but he also sees it as a sign of respect in some ways.
“It’s their job to keep you away from the quarterback and it’s my job to get there,” Mack said. “It makes me want to work that much harder. Part of your job as a pass rusher is to get their hands off you. I’ve been working on that a lot more.
“I can get a lot better. I’m going to do anything I can to help this team win.”
Mack has been one of the few bright spots — along with ageless safety Charles Woodson — on a defense that has played better the past two weeks following a shaky start.
Getting held, Tarver said, just comes with the job.
“If you’re causing holds and you’re making him hold you, then you’re going where we need you to go really fast,” Tarver said. “If you don’t want to get held, get them off you. Some of that is controlled by how much you attack and some of it is that they have to do everything they can to slow him down. He’s going to be outstanding and we’re going to be just fine.”
Notes: LG Gabe Jackson (knee) and CB Carlos Rogers (knee) have both been ruled out. TJ Carrie, who started last week in place of Rogers, continues to be limited with a sore ankle and is questionable.