Raiders training camp preview: Specialists

Raiders training camp preview: Specialists
July 19, 2014, 10:45 am
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Sebastian Janikowski's field goal percentage in 2013 was his worst since 2005. (AP)

Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp. The full squad will report on July 23, with the first practice day scheduled for July 25. This morning, Scott focuses on the specialists.

Who they have: K Sebastian Janikowski, P Marquette King, K/P Michael Palardy, LS Jon Condo, Return men: Greg Jenkins, Taiwan Jones, TJ Carrie, George Atkinson III

Who they lost: PR Jacoby Ford, PR Phillip Adams

Looking back: Janikowski would rather forget the 2013 season. It certainly wasn’t his best. He converted just 70 percent of his field goal attempts, a dismal number that followed a career-high 91.2-percent conversion rate in 2012. King’s holding came into question, but it proved an inadequate excuse for the veteran’s struggles. The 2013 season was King’s first as a full-time NFL punter. He flashed a powerful leg, but his accuracy left something to be desired. He had 11 touchbacks, second worst in the NFL, and ranked No. 23 with punts inside the opposing 20. … The return game was ordinary, without a standout returner on kickoffs or punts.

Overall outlook: The Raiders are sticking with Janikowski and King, strong specialists the team believes will improve over a season ago. Janikowski still has the leg required for long-distance field goals, and King has the work ethic required to improve accuracy in directional punts. The Raiders don’t have a set return man, and will experiment with several options during the preseason, though Jones and Jenkins are the frontrunners.

Camp competition: Palardy offers no real competition to the incumbents, but there should be a real battle for the returning duties. Rookie cornerback TJ Carrie has the skills to be a good return man, and was given reps during the offseason program. The Raiders even put skill player Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden and Denarius Moore in that spot at times, though the injury risk seems too great for them to be considered real contenders to return. Returning could be Atkinson’s ticket to the 53-man roster, so look for him to give maximum effort on special teams.