Playing the Raiders is a big deal for Khalil Mack, and that's good news for the Bears

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Khalil Mack is a pretty guarded guy, so it was a mild surprise to hear him speak so candidly about the Bears’ game against Oakland this weekend. 

“Yeah, you could say I’m suppressing the emotional side of it,” he told reporters at his locker on Tuesday morning. “But the other side is to go out and make them pay for it.” 

It’s clearly not just another game for Mack, and he’s been open in interviews about that; he told Deion Sanders how much he was looking forward to it. It’ll be the first time he’s played against the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 2014 draft, and then traded him 40.5 sacks later when he asked for a raise. Up until that point, he had expected to spend his entire career in Oakland. 

“You could say I was disappointed, man, but that’s the nature of the business,” he added. “You have to understand that, first and foremost, and let everything take care of itself. You only can control what you can control. When it comes to football, I love the game of football.

It’s admittedly a bit underwhelming that this game’s happening in London, plus Mack doesn’t know too many guys on the current Raiders roster. It will, however, be his first chance to lineup against quarterback Derek Carr. The two came into the league together six years ago and remain close. 

“It was special, man. That’s my brother,” he said. “I love him, but it’s going to be fun to compete against him this week.” 

“When we were there, we were trying to change the culture – just going through that process together, it was real special.”

If the Raiders want to think that some of the emotions might get the best of him, that’s certainly a choice they can make. 

“You can’t play this game with too much emotion, man,” Mack said. “Ultimately, I try to stay focused on the task at hand and understanding the situation, and understanding what they’re going to be thinking that I feel. But ultimately, I’m going to go out there and do what I do – and that’s play football and love the game that I play.” 

Mack’s stoicism is becoming the stuff of legend up at Halas Hall. Considering that refs miss about a dozen hold calls against him every game and never says a word about it, the Bears aren’t too concerned about Mack losing his cool.

“I think he looks at it like any other game,” fellow edge rusher Aaron Lynch said. “I think he’s excited to go after the Oakland Raiders but I think he’s excited – like all of us – to go after everyone else. 

“So just expect a couple of forced fumbles this game.”

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