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Bills look to keep Mack from making them 'sick'

Jordan Mills looked and sounded perfectly fine after he walked off the practice field Wednesday.

Rex Ryan apparently had it all wrong about the man who figures to be mainly responsible for blocking Khalil Mack Sunday.

"If I'm playing right tackle, I'm probably sick this week," the Buffalo Bills' coach said.

Actually, none of that described Mills, who will be at right tackle when the Bills face the Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. In fact, he expressed a good deal of faith in his ability to do his part to prevent the All-World defensive end/outside linebacker from being the sort of terror he has been in helping his team to a 9-2 record.

"I'll be definitely ready for him and I can't wait for the matchup," Mills said of facing the former University at Buffalo star. "He can make some tackles sick, but you've got to have that confidence, no matter what he does, in your technique, that your technique is sound, and you know you're a great player also and you've just got to handle your business.

"If you look at the film and just think, 'Oh, he's blowing this person up,' you've got to" remember, 'It's not you. He hasn't faced you yet.'"

It would be understandable if Mills were at least a bit squeamish as he watched video of Mack's performance in the Raiders' 35-32 victory against Carolina last Sunday.

As the Raiders began letting go of a 24-7 lead (punctuated by Mack's interception return for a touchdown with just under a minute left in the half), he almost single-handedly took it back. Besides the interception, he had a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, making him the first player since Charles Woodson in 2009 to register in all of those categories.

Mack, who was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, closed the game out by sacking Cam Newton on fourth-and-10 from the Oakland 44 and causing the fumble that Mack recovered with 53 seconds left.

"When you talk about our offense going down there and end up getting the go-ahead score, kicking a field goal to put us up, and putting the defense back out there on the field, it's up to us at that point to end the game," Mack said during a conference call with media covering the Bills. "That's what me and" quarterback "Derek" Carr "talked about before that series, and we wanted to make sure we went out and did it."

"He's really an unusual guy," Ryan said of Mack. "Some guys are speed guys, but some don't play with power. Some guys are speed-to-power, just power guys, but this guy can do it all. He can truck you, he can run around you, he's got moves, he's creative with his pass rush. So he and the Von Miller guy (in Denver) are the best in the league right now. So it's pretty much a nightmare."

There's almost no chance Ryan or offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will allow Mills to experience the wrath of Mack on his own. The Bills likely will do some double-team blocking with their linemen and tight ends. They'll also do their share of chip-blocking with their running backs.

It's the standard blueprint for dealing with a dominant pass-rusher, although Ryan suggested there might be a different twist or two. "We'll probably have to be creative in what we do," the coach said.

Mack is less comfortable talking about himself than he is about other topics such as:

*His memories of spending four-and-a-half years in Buffalo, including when the Bills allowed UB's football team to use their indoor practice facility, because "it was snowing like hell."

*Still having a small-school chip on his shoulder. "Your school is still playing on Thursdays and Fridays and Tuesdays ... there are a lot of guys that kind of still joke around about Buffalo and all those different things like that. So it's still on your mind."

*LeSean McCoy. "It's almost unreal to see the plays that he makes coming out of the backfield, shaking defenders and testing the discipline of the defense and the patience that he has. Just also seeing the acceleration once he finds those holes and those creases, he's pulling out and making guys miss. That's what makes him very, very, very special as a player."

*Tyrod Taylor's running ability. "It's almost like playing a Wildcat the whole game."

Mack doesn't shed a whole lot of light on his own accomplishments, beyond saying, "I'm just trying to go out and play ball better and better each week I take the field."

Others, such as second-year Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, are more than happy to gush about one of the very best players in the league.

"He's been the same guy from the beginning of the season until now," Del Rio said. "He comes to work every day. He puts in great effort, great energy. He's a positive guy, fun to be around. He just comes in and works every day on his craft because he's a blessed guy. God blessed him with a lot of gifts and he works really hard to help bring out the gifts."

Coaching has been a significant factor in that process.

When Del Rio arrived in Oakland in 2015, he brought a different philosophical approach to the front seven. He wanted Mack, along with the rest of the linemen, to be more focused on attacking the quarterback in passing situations rather than dropping into coverage.

"I think the biggest adjustment is that we asked him to go forward more often," Del Rio said. "Prior to us getting here," Mack "spent a lot of the year in coverage and we just felt like his strong suit would be going forward more often. Now, he's capable of covering. He is athletic enough and he does have" good "hands and he can do things in space as a coverage guy.

"But we think he's at his best going forward, so we spend more time with him doing that and we've been able to work with him. And he puts in the work to develop his skill level, because I think rushing the quarterback requires skill. It's not just talent, it's not just effort. There's a skill that you have to work on to defeat some of these top tackles and that's what he's been doing."

In his last six games, Mack has eight sacks. It's no coincidence the Raiders have five victories during that stretch.

But Mills believes he can do something to keep Mack from adding to his contributions to the Raiders' impressive season.

"I give him his total respect," Mills said. "He's the first person last season to make first-team All-Pro at defensive end and outside linebacker. You've got to give a guy his respect, but you also have to go out there with the confidence in knowing that he's a great player," but "he has to get through you to get to the quarterback. And you've got to buckle your chinstrap and it's going to be 60 minutes."

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