With the star pass-rusher shipped to Chicago in Saturday's stunning trade, it's fair to wonder how Oakland plans to hassle the quarterback. At least one Raiders rookie isn't concerned about picking up the slack.
"I feel like all our D-ends can rush the passer, as you can see in the preseason," third-round defensive end Arden Key told the East Bay Times. "We got Bruce Irvin and Frostee Rucker, who have been there before, who can help us young guys to get more sacks, pressures and whatnot. Other than that, we got to grind on the D-line. I believe everybody is capable of having sacks."
Key is correct to name the next men up, but nobody on the roster resembles Mack, a havoc-wreaking terror capable of blowing up double teams and looking, at times, like a latter-day Lawrence Taylor. Starting Monday night against the Rams, the Silver and Black are hoping Key, Irvin and Rucker can cause ample disruption, with Tank Carradine and Shilique Calhoun doing their part.
Key looked promising during the preseason, as did rookie tackles Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall. All of a sudden, coach Jon Gruden is counting on these newbies to lift a roster that feels primed to bloom -- not in Oakland -- but when the Raiders advance to Las Vegas.
The sudden void left by Mack took its toll on the locker room, with players still adjusting to the news days after the trade. Life in the NFL, though, demands that players move on without looking back.
"It was kind of quiet when we first got here," Key said in describing the aftermath of Mack's departure. "Not everybody had moved on. We know the reason why ... we gotta move on."