ALAMEDA — There are no secrets between Khalil Mack and Von Miller, and their shared knowledge could deliver a hard truth Sunday to quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Derek Carr.
Mack, the Raiders defensive end, is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, winning by a single vote over Miller, an outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos.
They are two of the NFL’s most dynamic players, known for their relentless pass rush and being equally stout against the run.
In late June, Miller held his first “Pass Rush Summit” at Stanford and attendees amounted to a Who’s Who in making quarterbacks miserable. Included were Atlanta’s Vic Beasley, the 2016 NFL sack leader, as well as Seattle’s Cliff Avril, Miami’s Olivier Vernon, Dallas’ Damontre Moore and up-and-comers such as the 49ers trio of Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.
Jack Del Rio, the head coach for Mack and defensive coordinator in Denver in 2012-14, applauds the dedication both men have for their craft.
“The reason they’re great is they continue to evolve, continue to develop, continue to work and refine their skills,” Del Rio said. “I think both are tremendous at that. They were good players the day they hit the league, but they both have a really good work ethic.”
Mack made himself scarce during local media availability sessions this week but did talk about the summit in a conference call with Denver media.
“When you break down the details and everything — what everybody else sees versus what you think and what you learned, it changes your approach to the game,” Mack said. “It widens your horizons to certain things, but at the same time you’re still going to be the player you are.”
Although both men are listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, they aren’t built the same. To put it in comic book terms — although Carr and Siemian won’t be laughing — Mack is the Incredible Hulk, Miller is Spiderman.
“One is a little but bigger, but they both have the ability to have power, to have speed to be effective as pass rushers,” Del Rio said. “I think Von is probably the most bendable guy. I’ve seen him turning the edge about an inch of the ground at full speed.”
Said Mack: “It’s pretty self-explanatory. Von has a hell of a get-off and can bend that corner like nobody else in the league. Kudos to him for that. I’m more of a physical guy in that approach.”
Miller talks of Mack as he would someone lifting a taxi cab and throwing it to the curb. In 2015, Mack had five sacks of Brock Osweiler all in the second half of a 15-12 win by the Raiders in Denver.
“Some of the stuff he was doing just can’t be done,” Miller said in a conference call. “Just pick up offensive linemen and run straight through them, that stuff, it can be done but not the way Khalil does it.”
Miller is so fast around the edge that he left Carr, in his first season, confused as to his next step.
“The way he can time the snap count, it’s freakish,” Carr said. “I remember my rookie year, catching the snap and he was already behind me. I was like, `Do I still do my drop? What do you do?’ You just step up and try and get rid of the ball.”
The presence of Mack on the roster can better enable the Raiders to deal with Miller.
Raiders left tackle Donald Penn joked that he wish he had been a fly on the wall during Miller’s summit to pick up pointers on how to block him. Penn also said he planned on getting in some pass sets this week against Mack — a notion that was seconded Thursday by offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
“We have a luxury in that we have No. 52 on our team, who gives us a pretty darn good look at that stuff throughout training camp and OTAs,” Downing said. “We feel like we have a good plan and we’re excited to go out and execute it.”
Miller has no problems playing host to an event that could benefit the opposition once the season begins.
“The NFL is a small fraternity and pass rushers is even smaller,” Miller said. “We all watch each other, we all pay attention to the same numbers and success as a pass rusher. So when you get around those guys in one room, there’s a lot of knowledge that can be shared.”
— The Raiders signed linebacker Boseko Lokombo to the pracitce squad. Kokombo, 26, played at Oregon and recently played on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Defensive end Max Valles was released from the practice squad.
— As part of his weekly fan Q&A on Twitter, Del Rio said of wide receiver Amari Cooper “We love Amari Cooper. He’s a heck of a football player. He’s a stud. Just watch him do his thing.” That came a day after Del Rio said of Cooper’s spate of dropped passes “He’s just going to have to make the catch, do the work.”
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