By any measure, that's a strong rookie season. But Mack is not satisfied with the four sacks he recorded. He is seeking to increase that total.
"I definitely want to get after the quarterback more this year," he told ESPN.com. "I got some hits [in 2014], but people didn't really see what I can do. Those sack numbers I had really weren't me. At the end of the day, you want people to see you at your best."
The Raiders are trying to help Mack, who piled up 40 hurries last year. They are reportedly going to give Mack fewer reps in pass coverage so he can concentrate on rushing the passer.
Mack was drafted fifth overall last year, after tying the NCAA career record for tackles-for-loss. He had four sacks for the Raiders as a rookie.
"He plays defensive end for us already in sub packages," coach Jack Del Rio said at the NFL owners meetings, per ESPN. "So, I think it would be natural for him to be able to play whatever we decide is best for him, how it helps the team best. ... He’s definitely shown he’s got ability to be an edge rusher, a defensive end, he is that in that capacity. I feel like it’s how we best want to utilize him and who we have around him as well."
"There's a freshness going on," Del Rio said Wednesday. "Those are things I talked about in the interview process that were important and they've been followed up with actual commitment of capital, which I'm excited about. So as you go into this phase of free agency and acquiring players, we have cap space and we have cash and we have a new staff full of teachers and we have a good young quarterback and we have a good young man off the edge in
Del Rio added that the team's yearly goal will be to win the AFC West and go from there.
Mack's NFL career is off to a promising start, but if you ask teammate Justin Tuck about the 6-3, 252-pound linebacker, he sets some pretty lofty expectations.
"I’ve watched a lot of film on guys like Derrick Thomas, Lawrence Taylor ... I’m not saying that he will be that player, I’m saying he’s capable of being that player," Tuck said last week during Super Bowl festivities, per ESPN. "Believe me, I know what praise I just gave him. I know what category I just potentially put him into. The thing I love about him that people don’t get to see every day is not the fact that he’s an absolute physical specimen. It’s not that. It’s that he’s smart, he understands the game, but he also understands that he doesn’t know it all."
Dowling entered the game listed as probable due to a hamstring injury. He was never a real threat to miss the contest.
Mack was listed as questionable with a hamstring issue. He was able to put in limited practice all week, but will attempt to play through the injury.
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