Iron sharpens iron: Chargers' Rashawn Slater, Khalil Mack go head-to-head
Training camp is always more fun when you get to see your team’s elite players duke it out, knowing that the competition they’ll face in real game situations will be a cakewalk compared to what they go through in practice every day.
Perhaps no situation is more indicative of this phenomenon than the trench battles at Los Angeles Chargers camp in Costa Mesa on Monday, as fans were treated to a battle between Rashawn Slater and Khalil Mack for the first time.
Both players showed on this rep that they’re ready for the season to start tomorrow. Mack easily gets inside Slater’s pads, not an easy feat for 95% of the league’s defenders, and converts speed to power effortlessly to drive Slater back. But Slater recovers, stands Mack up, and stonewalls him for the rest of the rep.
For Slater, honing his craft against Mack and Joey Bosa going into his second season will prepare him for just about anything once the Chargers start playing other teams. That’s a key developmental milestone for a second-year player poised to plant his flag as one of the league’s best blindside protectors if all goes well in 2022.
On the other side, it’s evident that Mack was not joking when he told the press he’d show them how hungry he was after injury prevented him from being at his best in Chicago. Reports from training camp have emphasized that the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year is working like he’s a UDFA trying to crack the squad, not a three-time All-Pro first-teamer set to play a starting role.
As the tweet from the Chargers’ social account says, you know what they say about iron. And early on, it looks like Slater and Mack will be razor sharp by the time the Raiders come to town for Week 1.