Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles New York Jets running back Chris Ivory during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot
November 06, 2015

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack practiced fully Friday for the first time this week and is expected to play in Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

Mack has been nursing a sore hamstring that sidelined him for one practice and limited him in another. He originally suffered the injury in the second half of Oakland's 34-20 win over the New York Jets last week.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said the move to rest Mack this week was precautionary.

''Just doing the right thing, making sure we allow him to heal up from the last one,'' Del Rio said Friday. ''We're fortunate that he's young and strong and tends to recover very quickly.''

Mack leads the Raiders with four sacks. The 24-year-old pass rush specialist is also one of the Raiders' best run defenders and a prime reason the team owns the second-ranked run defense heading into Sunday.

Mack told reporters on Thursday he was almost at full strength.

''I'm feeling like a million bucks,'' Mack said. ''I'm ready to go.''

The upstart 4-3 Raiders need all the healthy bodies they can get against the Steelers. Veteran defensive end Justin Tuck is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle and the secondary has been ravaged by injuries.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be making his second consecutive start after sitting out four games with a knee injury. Roethlisberger wasn't crisp in his return last week but remains a threat because of his ability to keep plays alive with his scrambling.

That puts added pressure on Oakland's defense, which has struggled to defend the pass for much of the season so far.

''The average play is 4-5 seconds. With (Roethlisberger) it can be extended,'' Del Rio said. ''It requires discipline in the secondary. It requires relentless pursuit out of our rush. The thing about rushing him is when you get there you have to tackle him with grown man strength. He won't go down with a little finger.''

Tuck's injury opened the door for second-round draft pick Mario Edwards Jr. to get increased work in practice and in games. The Raiders rookie has nine tackles, one sack and four quarterback hurries over his last three games.

Backup defensive tackle Denico Autry has also provided a boost off the bench and is coming off his best game of the season when he had three tackles, one sack and two stops behind the line of scrimmage in Oakland's win over the Jets last week.

''It's not much of a drop off when they go in,'' Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. ''You really want to develop your younger players and we've been able to do that.''

Notes: Free safety Charles Woodson (shoulder, knee) practiced fully and is probable. ... Strong safeties Larry Asante (knee) and Taylor Mays (ankle) are probable.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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