We hear a lot about how Derek Carr has taken on this Raiders team as a leader entering his second season in the league. He isn't the only second-year pro on this Raiders team who is stepping into a leadership role early on. The man the Raiders drafted ahead of him is also taking on the responsibility of being a leader on this team.
Khalil Mack doesn't appear off the field to be the kind of guy to lead men. That isn't a knock on him at all. He is just not a loud, outspoken type which you typically associate with a player to rally his teammates. But you can see after a season and even after a week of training camp, just how much more comfortable he has become as the face of this defense and the leadership that goes along with it.
"No doubt," Mack responded. "I was just talking to [Justin] Tuck about that; the fact that he wasn't out there yesterday and I had to step into that position, especially being with the guys that we had, and step up talk and bring that leadership role to the table. They really do listen, and I'm seeing that more and more every day. That's something that I have to learn as well."
Being a leader on an NFL team so early in his career is not something that just happened for Mack.
"It's something you have to adjust to, but the thing about being a leader is you have to be a teammate first. I'm just trying to be a good teammate and slowly, slowly go into that role."
Mack is well loved and respected by his teammates for his workmanlike approach as well as his dominant performances on the field both in practice and in games. He is the best player on this defense and goes about his business in such a way that leads by example. Bringing the energy every practice even in the heart of training camp is where it starts. A letdown is something even Mack has to battle.
"It's kind of like a thing where you have to teach yourself over and over again to bring that energy and bring that enthusiasm. In the game it's naturally done, but in practice, that's when you have to bring it and practice it. That's when you can turn it over into the game."
The first game of this season comes up in five days at which point Mack will get to see the fruits of his labor as well as those of his teammates. He personally takes on the responsibility of taking the energy his defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr displays in practice and translating it to the playing field.
"He (Ken Norton) is looking at us to take the torch as far as taking the energy onto the field," said Mack. "He can't be on the field with us, but we have to bring that spirit and his energy out there on the field and celebrate on everything we do positive as a defense."
"Everyone's excited for that. We get to see what everybody can do and then we get to see the young guys and see what we taught them and if they use it. Friday's going to be a good day for us."