NAPA – The Raiders kicker competition isn’t over. Head coach Jon Gruden made that point clear on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the team waived Giorgio Tavecchio.
He was the underdog in a battle with undrafted rookie Eddy Pineiro, who showed a powerful leg and great accuracy at the University of Florida.
Pineiro is expected to be the team’s regular-season kicker. That was the case before Tavecchio was released and after they added veteran Mike Nugent.
Nugent has worked with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia twice before and will mentor Pineiro, but he came to compete.
He’ll kick for the first time as a Raider on Monday. Pineiro had a strong Saturday, with 5-of-6 conversions. His only miss came from 50 yards, and he nailed his next attempt from the distance.
Pineiro fared better than Tavecchio in the early portions of camp, but the battle was set to continue into preseason games. It was cut short in large part, Gruden says, due to the difficulties of having Pineiro kicking right-footed and Tavecchio using his left.
“The young kid is really kicking the ball well right now,” Gruden said. “It’s hard to get a right-footed kicker and a left-footed kicker and the holder and the whole operation tight enough.”
“Nugent is a guy we have some familiarity with. Having two right-footed kickers will help the operation, including the snap and hold. Tavecchio is a good kicker, and we wanted to give him a catch on with another team. We appreciate Giorgio. He’s a true pro who did a lot of good things ... We have a battle still at the kicking position.”
The Raiders should be getting several players back soon.
Right guard Gabe Jackson suffered an undisclosed aliment that kept him out two practices, but should be back Monday. The same goes for safety Erik Harris, who had surgery to repair a fractured index finger on Friday.
Left tackle Donald Penn won’t be back that quickly, but Gruden said he’s making progress. He will have to get going again after he’s taken off PUP, but the team hopes he’ll respond well and find his old form.
Gareon Conley participated in Friday’s walk-through. Gruden was encouraged by that, but didn’t want to alter the defensive back’s two-week recovery timetable. That’s a good sign for the Raiders, who need him well-prepped for the regular season.
This ‘n that
The Raiders sat roughly 17 veterans out of Saturday’s practice to get a better, longer look at some young players. Giving them a day also doubles the down time, considering the Raiders have an off day Sunday. … The Raiders held their annual family day for players and coaches in training camp. The team held a huge BBQ after practice next to the fields, with activities for young children. … This was the team’s first practice completely without pads since they were allowed to put them on Monday. … Receiver Dwayne Harris made a nice one-handed catch on a floating EJ Manuel pass that hung in the air a smidge too long. ... Receiver Marcell Atement continues to make plays down the field. He’s strong picking passes out of the air, but dove to catch one near the ground while well covered. … Gruden praised Jon Feliciano’s work with Jackson out, and likes him as a substitute at all three interior line spots.