After an offseason of the media across the football world using a lot of superlatives to describe second year pass rusher Khalil Mack, he took the field for the first day of training camp with some high expectations. From day one, he looks destined to live up to those expectations.
Mack spoke of the difference coming into his second training camp.
"There's a lot of things you can expect already," said Mack. "You knew what the tempo should be, you knew that you gotta come out and play at a high level the first day and it only sets that standard for you to get better, keep going and increasing your level of play."
Near the end of practice, Derek Carr, got a firsthand account of just how prepared Mack is for this year's camp when Mack came flying around Menelik Watson on the right side of the line and was right in Carr's face as soon as he planted his foot on his drop back. This prompted Carr to use a few choice F-words to describe his 2014 draft class mate and put Mack in the same class with the best pass rushers in the game.
"That guy is a freak, man," said Carr. "He reads plays like that (snaps). Usually that play doesn't look like that from the defensive side of it. But when you get a top five pick over there, especially someone who is a top 100 player obviously. He's one of the best at his position. He's going to make plays like that. Just like we're going to make plays, he's going to make freakish plays. You just know stuff like that is going to happen. It's like playing Von [Miller] and Justin [Houston], Tamba [Hali], DeMarcus [Ware], all those guys. You know they're gonna make plays. You know they're gonna do something freakish, make a play."
I mentioned to Mack the names Carr invoked when describing him and he responded as you would expect.
"I'm trying to go out and be the best player I can be and my name is Khalil," he said. "I'm just trying to be the best Khalil, so whatever he says about me, I appreciate it, but I still got a long way to go."
No sooner did he get those words out but Carr walked by and dropped another F-bomb on Mack.
"Franchise." Carr said of Mack. A somewhat embarrassed Mack turned "Man, DC, really?", prompting Carr to continue the F-word onslaught; "Foundation", he said of Mack.
Mack is not the type of guy who takes this kind of language well. He is a humble guy and with the accolades he has received lately along with the expectations and responsibility the coaching staff is placing on his shoulders, that could easily go to a guy's head.
Those responsibilities will consist mostly of being the team's primary pass rushing threat. Today he worked almost exclusively with the defensive line, only joining the linebackers for a couple plays in coverage drills. It has him running back and forth as the team will be counting on him heavily as their best defensive player.
"That's what I'm here to do," said Mack. "I'm here to play football and I love this game. It's all love. I love doing linebacker drills and the defensive line drills because it's helping me get better and that's what I wanna do, I wanna help this team be better and be great and win games."
Call him what you want; freak, franchise, foundation, or otherwise. From day one of camp, there is every reason to believe he is on course to live up to such talk.