By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 at 3:02 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Punter Shane Lechler and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would appear to be mortal locks to be repeat selections to the 2010 Pro Bowl, scheduled to be announced at 4 p.m. (PST) on the NFL Network.
Lechler has been chasing Sammy Baugh’s all-time gross punting average record of 51.40 set in 1940, although his lowest figure of the season (44.0) make it necessary for him to have a career game to move up to No. 1. He leads the NFL in gross punting and net punting.
Asomugha has been tested so infrequently he has only three passes defensed _ his lowest total since 2005 _ and he has just one interception. Judging from weekly comments from opposing players and coaches, his spot would seem to be secure based on his reputation.
Players are elected by a combination of voting from fans, players and coaches, with each counting one-third.
Probably the most deserving Raider who rates a longshot is place kicker Sebastian Janikowski who will be penalized for playing on one of the NFL’s worst offenses unless voters look past his 22nd ranking in scoring with 88 points.
Janikowski has converted 24 of 27 field goal attempts, with his misses coming from distances of 45 (wide left vs. Kansas City), 57 (wide left vs. Cincinnati) and 66 (short vs. Washington) yards.
A 66.7 percent kicker from 40 and 49 yards coming into this season, Janikowski is 9-for-10 this season. At 50 yards and beyond, where Janikowski was 19-for-41 (46.3 percent) for his career through 2008, this season he’s at 75 percent (6-for-8).
Against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Janikowski had one of the most impressive field goals in NFL history, a 61-yarder into the wind on a snowy day in one of the toughest December venues.
“That’s by far the best I’ve seen,” said Lechler, his holder since 2000. “I’ve seen him kick further ones in practice and pregame, but never in those conditions.”
On kickoffs, Janikowski has 17 touchbacks in 54 attempts, ranking fifth in the NFL in touchback percentage.
As for Jankowski’s Pro Bowl credentials, Lechler said, “He’s got a miss from 45, a miss from 57 and a miss from 66. I mean, two of those wouldn’t even be attempted by 95 percent of the league, and one of ‘em is a 50-50 shot for 95 percent of the league.”
Lechler is hopeful Janikowski is voted in, but said, “I don’t know that enough has been sent out by the organization tp pub him to get the votes. That’s just the way it is here.”
San Diego place kicker Nate Kaeding leads the AFC in scoring with 138 points and has converted 29 of 32 field goal attempts, including 4-for-6 from 40 to 49 yards and 3-for-4 from 50-plus.
A potential reputation pick would be defensive lineman Richard Seymour, although Seymour has just four sacks and none since getting a pair on Oct. 15 against Philadelphia. Second-year strong safety Tyvon Branch leads all NFL defensive backs with 121 tackles, but has no interceptions and plays for a 5-10 team with the NFL’s 27th ranked defense.