COSTA MESA, Calif.
Khalil Mack hasn’t had much time to reflect on his debut with the Los Angeles Chargers, especially since they have a short week until they face the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
After putting in a performance that most players would consider a career game, Mack kept an impression after watching the tape from last Sunday’s 24-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
“It wasn’t good enough. I left a lot of things there and I have to fix them,” Mack said Tuesday before the Chargers conducted a pitch session.
Mack was the third player in franchise history to record three sacks in an opener since 1982, joining Shawne Merriman and Rodney Harrison. He also added six tackles, seven QB pressures and one save in the running game for a 1-yard loss, the only running trick of the game for the Chargers defense.
Mack and Joey Bosa – who had combined 4 1/2 sacks and 16 QB pressures in Game 1 – are looking to create the same type of havoc against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. There were three games against the Raiders where Mack and Bosa were able to enter the backfield at the same time.
“It’s great to talk about the ball on the touchline and just communicate what we’re getting and what each attacking tackle gives us. So exchanging ideas throughout the game is good,” said Mack said.
Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said Mack’s attention to the running game was the biggest surprise that stood out during training camp.
“You think about his pass rush. But he talks to Joey about setting the tempo in the running game, how these two are going to work together,” Hill said.
Bosa has 2 1/2 sacks in six games against Mahomes, including 1 1/2 last year. Mack has only faced Mahomes once, a 2019 encounter in Chicago, but recorded one sack.
While Mack is in a split with Carr, Mahomes and Russell Wilson as quarterbacks, any sack is a special occasion.
“It’s a game we can play and have fun. They are all equal. You want to send them all back,” Mack said. “There won’t be too many times when you play against them.”
Brandon Staley shared last year’s games against the Chiefs in his first season as Chargers coach. Los Angeles won a 30-24 encounter in Week 3 at Arrowhead Stadium last season before losing 34-28 in overtime in Week 15 at home.
With six new starters on defense this season — including Mack — Staley feels like he has a unit that can hold their own against Kansas City as the Chargers seek their first 2-0 start since 2012.
“You need a team to be able to defend an attack like this, and certainly a player like Patrick. Any time you face an attack that has weapons – running backs, receivers, tight ends – and who has an exceptional offensive line, you will need the same thing in defense, the same type of formula, “said Staley. What Khalil does is he gives you that chance up front, at both in the run game and in the pass rush, to be able to impact the game. You need a lot more people than your starting 11 to be able to defend a team like this.
Notes: WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) is not expected to play this week and could likely be out for longer as Staley noted the injury “could take a while”. … CB JC Jackson (ankle) was a limited participant for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery Aug. 22. It will be a game-time decision if Jackson makes his Chargers debut after signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract in the offseason. … TE Donald Parham (hamstring) has been ruled out for the second game in a row.
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