Filed for print with additional notes. . .
Imagine a shortstop having worked with the same second baseman for 13 seasons and then being asked to turn a double plays with a rookie and you’ve got an idea how Sebastian Janikowski feels.
Marquette King isn’t technically a rookie, having spent last season on injured reserve, but he’s not Shane Lechler, either.
Six games into the season, Janikowski is still getting used to having someone other than Lechler as his place kick holder as the Raiders host the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
In a 24-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs preceding the bye week, Janikowski had his most surprising miss yet _ a 51-yard attempt that came up short in Arrowhead Stadium, his favorite kicking venue.
“I was kicking the ball great in warm-ups,’’ Janikowski said Friday. “I didn’t miss anything. I just love that place. There’s something about Kansas City.’’
“Right when it hit his foot, I heard it,’’ long-snapper Jon Condo said. “He didn’t make good contact.’’
“I was surprised,’’ Janikowski said. “I didn’t hit it real good and I kind of toed it.’’
That makes four misses for Janikowski in six games. In Week 1, he missed wide left from 48 yards after not having failed from 49 yards and in since 2011. Janikowski was 4-for-5 the following week against Jacksonville, but was wide left from 35 yards out, his first miss under 40 yards in 50 attempts.
Janikowski missed from 52 yards against Washington.
He missed only three field goal attempts last season, all from 50 yards or longer.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who like most everyone else thought Janikowski was back on track with field goals of 47 and 50 yards without a miss in a win over San Diego, was again extending another vote of confidence to his struggling kicker.
“Everybody goes through a little bit of a rough patch,’’ Allen said. “He obviously has. I think we all have pretty high expectations that every time he trots out there he’s going to kick it through the uprights.
“When you look up at the end of the year I think all of us will be pleased with the results we’ve seen out of him.’’
While King has worked diligently on his holding, and even put a balloon bouquet in front of Janikowski’s locker the day after the San Diego game, changing place kick holders has been a bigger issue than expected.
Most kickers have to get used to different holders a number of times in a career. This is the first time for Janikowski and he’s in his 14th season. Janikowski remembers things weren’t smooth with Lechler when both were rookies in 2000 when he was 22 of 32 on field goal attempts.
“You’ve got to understand, when Shane and I came out the first year I think we missed 10 field goals together,’’ Janikowski said. “It’s like being a rookie again, and I think you’ve just got to work with the guy and get that confidence and trust. It might be better Sunday. It might take two more weeks. I don’t know.’’
Condo said there are nuances to the process that came second-nature to Lechler and Janikowski built up through years that can’t be worked out with King in a mere matter of months.
“After 13 years, he gets used to Shane’s body mechanics and the way he moves,’’ Condo said. “Marquette or any other holder isn’t the same as Shane. It can be as small as how he reaches for the ball, something that Seabass catches out of the corner of his eye on his approach.
“It all comes down to getting reps together and we’re working on it as a unit, the three of us.’’
– Running back Darren McFadden is hoping Pittsburgh’s no-nonsense defense plus getting back center Stefen Wisniewski will help get the running game on track.
“You always know Pittsburgh is going to play hard-nosed defense,” McFadden. “That’ll be the case on Sunday, but we have some things that we want to do out there and hopefully make some big plays against them.”
“A physical game fits my style. It’s always good. I love running in these games. You wan tot be able to go out and show what you can do.”
– Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday he had just begun to see some of the explosiveness from Jacoby Ford that he’d heard about from others.
Ford, who has three carries for 8 yards and seven receptions for 55 yards, believes he’s been good to go since the beginning of the season and is waiting for his turn.
“It’s just been a matter of trying to figure out different ways to get the ball in my hands and on special teams,” Ford said. `That’s been something we’ve been exploring around with this week.”
Ford agrees he’s still proving himself to a new staff.
“They saw what I did in the past but now it’s time to go and show what you can do now,” Ford said. “That’s what I try to do whenever I get the ball in my hands, I just try to make a positive play every time so the ball just keeps finding my hands more and more.”
– Right tackle Tony Pashos (hip), guard-center Andre Gurode (knee) and tackle Menelik Watson (knee) did not practice and were listed as doubtful, meaning they are highly unlikely to face Pittsburgh.
The Raiders will probably promote tackle Jack Cornell from the practice squad Saturday for line depth, meaning they’ll have to release a player.
Center Stefen Wisniewski (knee) was limited but listed as probable. Cornerback Tracy Porter (shoulder) had full participation and is listed as probable. Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) is questionable and safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) is out.
– Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was at practice Friday as part of the CBS television crew which will broadcast the game.