NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Even as he and Giorgio Tavecchio continue to split reps in practice, Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski doesn’t seem too concerned about his job status.
While coach Jack Del Rio has preached open competition at every position, Janikowski had enough motivation already. The franchise’s career scoring leader turned 38 in March and is entering his 17th NFL season, all of them in Oakland.
Having another kicker around to compete for the starting job was no big deal.
“I get motivated no matter what,” Janikowski said Saturday. “That’s my job. I have to come in, get in good shape and kick the ball. I worked my butt off in the offseason and I tried to get in better shape. Hopefully it’s going to pay off.”
Janikowski is the longest-tenured player on the Raiders roster and the lone remaining link to the Oakland’s last playoff appearance in 2002.
Since then he has watched as the team has made eight head coaching changes and revamped the roster repeatedly. The one constant has been Janikowski, the 17th overall pick in 2000.
“It went by fast, I’ll tell you that,” Janikowski said. “It went by fast but (it’s another) year and I think it’s going to be a great year for us.”
Janikowski is entering the third year of a four-year deal he signed with the Raiders in 2013. He’s due to make nearly $4 million in 2016 after converting 21 of 26 field-goal attempts last season.
His age and salary could make Janikowski expendable this season, which is why Tavecchio’s presence in practice is so intriguing.
Tavecchio has bounced around the NFL since 2002. He’s spent time with San Francisco, Green Bay, Detroit and Oakland, but has never made it onto a regular-season roster but is pushing Janikowski in camp.
“He’s an NFL kicker,” Raiders special teams coach Brad Seely said. “Will he kick for us? That remains to be seen, but it’s a competition and we’re seeing who’s the best.
“Sebastian has done this for a long time and has been really good. Obviously he’s the front-runner going in. It’s like a heavyweight championship fight. You have to knock him out if you’re going to take his job.”
Janikowski is tied with Jason Hanson for the most field goals of 50 yards or longer in NFL history. Barring injury he’s almost certain to break the record early in the upcoming season after converting four of five attempts from that range last season.
The Raiders bypassed a handful of kicks within Janikowski’s normal range last season, raising questions about his future with the team.
Janikowski sidestepped questions about that and said the option to kick or not remains with coach Jack Del Rio.
“I don’t make those decisions,” Janikowski said. “Jack is making the decisions. That’s why he’s the head coach. If he wants to kick it, I’m out there kicking it. If he wants to go for it, he’s going for it.
Notes: Left guard Kelechi Osemele and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. were kicked out of practice for fighting. The two got into multiple scuffles before Del Rio sent them off the field. … Fourth-round draft pick Connor Cook made the play of the day when he connected with undrafted rookie wide receiver K.J. Brent on a long touchdown pass.