NAPA -- Raiders rookie linebacker Khalil Mack cleared another hurdle Friday when he made it through his first training camp practice without incident.
Mack, the Raiders first-round draft pick in May, said things pretty much went the way he expected. Now he's looking forward to his next challenge, when the players put on the pads and ratchet up the intensity Sunday.
"I'm pretty eager, pretty eager, even though the guys told me it's going to be a lot faster," Mack said. "But I just can't wait."
Mack worked alongside fellow linebackers Nick Roach and Miles Burris with the first-team defense. Still, he said, he has plenty of work to do before he gets to where he wants to be.
"I'm starting at the bottom right now," Mack said. "I'm trying to work my way up. I know I got to get a lot better. I can't give myself a grade. I know it wouldn't be too good, but hopefully I can improve a lot more."
He got better Friday, he said, just by taking the advice he received from veteran defensive linemen Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and incorporating it into his repertoire.
Tuck, for instance, instructed Mack to use his hands more so that blockers can't get to Mack's pads and Mack isn't "working against myself." Woodley told Mack to be more physical with tight ends and ditch the "finesse" approach.
Through it all, Tuck said he is keeping the dialogue between him and Mack to a minimum.
"He has enough on his plate right now, learning the playbook and getting the feel for NFL life," Tuck said. "There will be a time when he'll be ready to take it up a notch. You don't' want to overload him with too much stuff. There are a lot of people in his ear right now, coaches and stuff like that."
Yet, Mack hasn't lost any of his confidence. He treats the growing pains as just part of the maturation process.
"I'm going to come out and make an impact," Mack said, when asked what he envisions this season. "My expectations are, I want to be the defensive rookie of the year. That's what I'm going to hold myself to while I'm out there on the field working and remember that while I'm out there working hard."
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