Gruden: Mack's holdout is not a distraction

Khalil Mack's training camp holdout hit three weeks and shows no signs of an end in sight.

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, however, isn't sweating missing his best player. The coach suggested on Wednesday that Mack's absence isn't a distraction, despite the nearly daily questions on the subject.

"I don't think it's been a distraction," Gruden said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. "It's obviously, for me, been disappointing. You want to have your best player here. This guy is really a great guy, too. I'm disappointed we don't have him here. Going to try to get him here as soon as we can. In the time being, you've got to move on. You've got to get up and go to work. That's one thing I'm very proud of what we've done here."

Mack is due $13.846 million in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. The 27-year-old is holding out in hopes of getting a long-term deal done before the start of the season. Sides, however, are not close. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported a fortnight ago that sides hadn't spoken since February about a new deal.

Gruden noted earlier in training camp that Mack isn't the only player Oakland needs to focus on, remarking that the Raiders "weren't very good last year on defense with Khalil Mack."

The coach expounded on those comments to NFL Media's Michael Silver on Wednesday.

"S---, I'm trying to help him," Gruden told Silver. "Last year we had one interception (through 12 weeks, and a league-low five on the season). That's not good. We had no third pass rusher. When (Mack) came out of the game, the quarterback could sit back there and take a five-step hitch and do whatever he wanted. Now we have a third guy, and we finally have an inside rush. At least now we have a chance. If he comes back, it should be pretty good for him. I think he could be better."

To be better, first Mack needs to report.

Until there is a resolution, Gruden will continue to be asked about Mack's situation. The coach doesn't view that as a distraction.

If Mack misses real games, Gruden might feel differently.