The Las Vegas Raiders‘ rivalry with the Los Angeles Chargers has a new layer to it this season with the team trading for Khalil Mack. The former Raiders first-round pick and Defensive Player of the Year is one of the best players to wear silver and black in the last 20 years. He was supposed to have a long career with the team but former head coach Jon Gruden decided to trade him to the Chicago Bears upon arrival.
The Bears are rebuilding so they decided to send the star pass rusher to the Chargers this offseason. Mack already got his revenge against Gruden and the Raiders last season so he’s not reading too much into his next matchup versus the team. The Chargers host the Raiders to start the season and Mack made it clear that he still has love for the team and some of the people there but did take a subtle shot at Gruden.
“I mean the people that I didn’t like probably aren’t there anymore,” Mack said, via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press. “I’ll always have respect for the organization.”
Though he doesn’t outright say it, it’s highly likely that the person Mack didn’t like is Gruden. When the two sides were discussing a new contract, things didn’t go well, which is why the star pass rusher got traded.
Mack Talks Relationship With Derek Carr
One person who is still involved with the Raiders who Mack certainly doesn’t have any disdain for is quarterback Derek Carr. The two were drafted together in 2014 and were the driving forces behind the team’s playoff berth in 2016. Carr was devastated when Mack got traded but the two remain close friends even though they are now rivals.
“That’s my brother,” Mack said of Carr, via SI.com. “I like to talk trash here and there. I feel like that’s a bond that can’t be broken when it comes to that, but come Sunday it’s on and poppin’. … He’s an ultimate competitor. One of the best in the game. Somebody that I highly respect when it comes to the leadership aspect, as well as the quarterback position.”
Unfortunately for Carr, Mack won’t go easy on him when the two match up. He’s got an elite running mate in Joey Bosa so things could get treacherous for the quarterback.
Mack Talks Difference Between Game & Practice
Mack has consistently been one of the best defensive players in the NFL for years but he’s coming off his worst season. He only played in seven games due to injury which was the first time he played in less than 14 games in a season. However, he was still playing at a high level, having complied 6.0 sacks in just seven games.
Mack is looking to bounce back this year but he’s only been able to practice with his new team. He knows things change during games.
“Practice is so much different than a game, even though you try your best to kind of mimic and create those muscle memories as far as pass rushing or run blocking, getting off of run blocks,” Mack said. “Everything heightens, the nerves go up a little bit, but it’s all the same. I’m just looking forward to seeing the guys go out and have fun and play loose and ballin’ just like it is practice.”