The Raiders will open the season with a kicker other than Sebastian Janikowski for the first time since the 20th century on Sunday, because the team placed the 18th-year veteran on IR Saturday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Janikowski’s struggled with a back injury during the preseason. In Janikowski’s place, Giorgio Tavecchio is in line to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Titans, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. The Raiders signed Tavecchio to their practice squad on Friday after taking him to training camp the past two years.
Schefter notes (via Twitter) the Raiders promoted Tavecchio from the practice squad. The Raiders were concerned about Janikowski’s back for some time, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (on Twitter) the kicker hadn’t felt right in weeks.
A disc injury will shelve Janikowski for at least half the season, but the situation could be complicated. The Raiders are planning to make rookie safety Obi Melifonwu one of their IR-DTR players, and teams only have two such spots. So it’s possible this injury ends Janikowski’s season, depending on what transpires on the Oakland injury front during the first half of the season. The Raiders waited until December of last year to recall defensive end Mario Edwards, but it would certainly be interesting if they held a spot for a kicker.
This has been quite the newsworthy week involving the longest-tenured player in Raiders history. Oakland worked out three recently released kickers — Josh Lambo, Mike Nugent and Marshall Koehn — and a pay-cut agreement commenced, reducing Janikowski’s 2017 salary from $4MM to $3MM. This followed an initial impasse that involved the longtime specialist refusing to accept a pay reduction. That $3MM figure is guaranteed in this the last season of Janikowski’s latest Raiders contract.
The 2000 first-round pick has only missed four games with the Raiders, and his 268 are the most any Raider’s ever played.
Lambo, Nugent and Koehn will be names to monitor, since it’s unlikely Tavecchio will have surefire job security. He’ll have to perform to stave off a potential veteran add. Also a left-footed kicker, Tavecchio kicked for Cal from 2008-11.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.