ALAMEDA _ Move over Tim Brown, you’ve got company.
The first time Sebastian Janikowski takes the field Sunday against the Chicago Bears, he will tie the Raiders’ most recent Hall of Fame inductee by playing in his 240th game. The following week, in what could be one of the most anticipated regular-season Raiders games in years, Janikowski will stand alone in terms of on-field service to the organization.
“It means a lot,” Janikowski said. “I’m doing something right, right?”
A controversial first-round draft pick (No. 17 overall) by Al Davis out of Florida State in 2000, Janikowski appears to be kicking as well as ever in 2015. He has converted all five field goal attempts from distances of 23, 46, 48, 23 and 35 yards. He is 8-for-8 on extra points, which come from the more challenging distance this season of 35 yards.
At 6-foot-1, 265 pounds, Janikowski remains the NFL’s most imposing place kicker at age 37. He has missed only four games in his career.
“In this league, you get hurt, you get injuries,” Janikowski said. “I never thought I would play this long. But I feel great and I’m just going to keep going as long as I can.”
Janikowski feels energized by the coaching staff in general and special teams coordinator Brad Seely in general. He loves the club’s new performance center and the commitment that comes with it. He also likes the 2-1 record but is only cautiously optimistic three games into the season.
“I like the changes. I like the coaching staff,”Janikowski said. “Nice building. We’ve got a facility now. We can work out. But 2-1 doesn’t mean anything. It’s a long season.”
If there is a secret to Janikowski’s success, it’s a workout program that keeps his body fresh and his left leg fresh rather than hammering the ball from training camp through 17 weeks of the regular season.
“I’m doing more stuff. I lift more,” Janikowski said. “But you’ve got to manage how much you’re kicking during the week. Week 24, 25, I’d kick three times a week. Can’t do that any more.”
The leading scorer in franchise history with 1,597 points, Janikowski has yet to add to his 48 field goals of 50 yards or further, leaving him four shy of Jason Hanson’s all-time record of 52 in 21 seasons. The recent hard times of the franchise has kept him from adding to his total of 13 game-winning field goals, with the last one coming from 40 yards out against Jacksonville in 2012 in overtime.
Asked if he is still at the top of his game, Janikowski said, “You look at my stats? That’s how I can tell . . . (on) field goals I’m doing the same thing I did 10 years ago, a couple of 60-yarders in warmups before games. I don’t see the difference. I don’t see the difference. The more you do, the more you work out, you can be strong.”