Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski has done a lot of changing during his 15-year NFL career.
He’s gone from being the brash, hard-living, party-chasing kid out of Florida State who made headlines for all the wrong reasons to a much calmer father of two who prefers quiet times with his children over the social scene.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long,” Janikowski said. “It feels like I just got drafted, for real. Fifteen years and still going strong.”
What hasn’t changed is Janikowski’s powerful left leg.
The 36-year-old remains one of the strongest kickers in the league and is closing in on the NFL record for the most made field goals of 50 yards or longer in a career.
To get it, Janikowski will have to bounce back from a rough 2013 and foster a better relationship with second-year holder Marquette King.
The duo struggled to find any sort of rhythm together after Janikowski’s holder the previous 14 seasons, Shane Lechler, signed with Houston as a free agent.
Kickers being creatures of habit, the change in holders was akin to asking Janikowski to kick with his right leg. It was an uncomfortable feeling Janikowski battled all season.
“You stay with the same guy for 14 years, the trust is there,” he said. “You don’t have to think about it going on the field.”
Janikowski converted only 21 of 30 field-goal attempts last season, a 70 percent success rate that was his lowest since 2006 and the third-worst mark of his career.
More telling, Janikowski made just three of his seven attempts from beyond 50 yards – his fewest since 2005 when he went 0 for 3 from that distance.
“Our timing was off,” Janikowski said. “Just timing, the confidence … the trust.”
In an effort to improve their relationship on and off the field, Janikowski flew to California two months before training camp in order to get in extra work with King.
The two, along with long snapper Jon Condo, worked out together privately and have looked much smoother since training camp began.
“For him to go out and have success, he’s gotta be comfortable and feel good that the operation is going to be the same on every single play,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Janikowski. “That operation with Jon and Marquette and Seabass (Janikowski) has improved tremendously, and I do think that Seabass has a lot more confidence in Marquette as a holder.”
Allen also credited special teams assistant coach Chris Boniol, a former kicker who spent six seasons in the NFL.
“Chris has a way of being able to relate to those guys and talk to them on a level where they can understand what he’s trying to get accomplished,” Allen said. “To (Janikowski’s) credit, he’s taken to all of that and done everything that we’ve asked him to do.
Janikowski reported to camp looking leaner, but more stout than in the previous years.
Part of that was so that he could keep up with his two young daughters, both of whom came out to practice Saturday as part of the Raiders’ annual Family Day.
The 17th overall pick in 2000, Janikowski also has his sights set on Jason Hanson’s NFL record of 52 field goals of at least 50 yards. The Oakland kicker has 45.
Breaking that record and getting back to the Super Bowl are high on Janikowski’s agenda. He and the Raiders played in the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, but haven’t returned to the postseason since.
“Super Bowl, that’s the ultimate goal,” Janikowski said.
Janikowski also believes he can break the NFL’s record for longest field goal. Denver’s Matt Prater kicked a 64-yarder last year to establish the mark.
“I know Matt’s got the record for now,” Janikowski said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the 70-yarder from (former Raiders coach Lane) Kiffin. It’s a challenge.”
Notes: Linebacker Sio Moore sat out practice because of a sore rib. … The team held a scripted scrimmage to work on specific down-and-distance situations, something Allen said they’ll continue to do throughout camp. “We got a little sloppy at times,” Allen said. “But overall, I was pleased with what I saw out there.”