Hidden Gems: Raiders Special Teams Earn Respect

Oakland Raiders kick Giorgio Tavecchio raiders.com
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Oakland Raiders’ General Manager Reggie McKenzie received plenty of praise for finding unheralded gems . On both sides of the ball, the Raiders employ players whose stories would make an Oscar-worthy script. McKenzie’s penchant for finding talent  resulted in the Raiders once again being one of the NFL’s best.

Raiders’ punter Marquette King leads all punters in Pro Bowl votes. King’s 49.2 yard-per-punt average ranks second  in the league. Couple that with 24 punts inside the 20 (T-5th) and it is obvious how valuable his leg is to a defense still coming along. The fifth-year star out of Fort Valley State receives more praise for his leg than his mouth. Even groin issues have not slowed King from having a career-best season thus far.

Meanwhile, on the punt team, King is not the only shining star. 2017 free agent Cordarrelle Patterson may be the team MVP this season. Patterson has four tackles, hurrying to down opponents in their own territory. Oakland’s punt defense as a whole allows just 6.5 yards (21st).

Another undrafted leg is leading the way for Oakland,  Giorgio Tavecchio continues to impress. After bouncing around the league, Tavecchio earned the task of replacing Sebastian Janikowski. Tavecchio stepped up and currently sits at 13-16 on field goal attempts, with just one missed PAT.

On kickoff, Oakland allows just 19.7 yards per return (7th-best). The Raiders’ special teams unit was one of the league’s premier squads in 2016. Free agency saw safety Brynden Trawick, Linebacker Darren Bates and receiver Andre Holmes walk. This made way for linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster, safety Erik Harris and wideout Johnny Holton to shine. Harris is the latest undrafted hero for Oakland. He enjoyed stints in the Canadian Football League and the New Orleans Saints in 2016.

In order to be a great team, all units have to do their part. Right now, the special team’s unit may be the best leg of this Raiders franchise overall.

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