It’s Monday and all’s quiet at the Raiders’ facility for the first time in a while. No training sessions, no practices, no press conferences. The next time the Raiders players will take the field with their teammates will be late July and it will be in Napa.
There’s nearly six weeks until they return. In the meantime, Jack Del Rio had a few messages for his players to follow over the break:
1. Take care of your bodies
“We’re going to have a tough camp and we have a tough schedule ahead of us,” said Del Rio. “We have to be ready to put in the work. So don’t let all the good things we just did go away. You have to take ownership of this time in the next five weeks to do the right things. Getting ready, get your body ready. Recharge your batteries a little bit.”
2. Stay out of trouble
“Be safe. Make good decisions,” he continued. “... More occurrences than ever happen this time of year. Just don’t take any liberties. Don’t take any chances. Don’t take anything for granted. Appreciate where we are and the opportunity that we have and remember that it’s all about the team.”
For the veteran leaders on this team like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, Del Rio hasn’t a care in the world. Since the team drafted the pair in 2014, both have proven each and every offseason they know how to take care of their bodies and neither are a danger to see any kind of trouble.
The two have long fueled each others’ fire, but Mack took some time to become the vocal leader the defense needed him to be. Being named Defensive Player of the Year will have a tendency to earn you the respect of your teammates who aspire to such accolades.
For those players, Mack offered a bit of advice.
“You have a lottery ticket in your hand,” Mack told his defensive teammates. “You can’t trick it off on doing something stupid in the town messing with this and that. It’s all about being focused and remembering that lottery ticket that you got in your hand is that opportunity that you have to play and do great things and represent your last name.”
If there was one area Mack doesn’t do well in it’s taking a break. Last offseason, he said he took all of one day off. The first break this offseason, he said his mom made him take two days off. But the next six weeks he has no such plans.
“I was thinking about it today,” Mack said of whether he will take any vacation time. “Everybody’s talking about what they might do, but I doubt it. (laughter) I’m going to stay away from the beach. I grew up in Florida, I had 18 years to go out and walk on the sand, the beach sand and stuff. So, I’m over it. (laughter) I’m going to be working.”
It’s easy to see how Mack’s work ethic has paid off. Going from 4.0 sacks as a rookie to 15.0 sacks his second season, leading the league in hurries with 11.0 sacks and being named Defensive Player of the Year his third season.
Not to mention, you just need to look at the guy. As big as he was coming into the league, he seems to get even bigger every year. If even a shred of his work ethic can rub off on his teammates, that can only be a positive.