It surely raised eyebrows undrafted rookie boot specialist Eddy Pineiro got all the kicking reps over incumbent and veteran Giorgio Tavecchio during Oakland Raiders minicamp.
However, do not read too much into it says the coaching staff. That was simply a deliberate tactic deployed by head coach Jon Gruden and special teams boss Rich Bisaccia. Pineiro got his day, Tavecchio got his too.
“We’ve been rotating days throughout the majority of the camp and then we’ve actually kicked them on the same day once before,” Bisaccia said. “We’ll see how that goes. But it’s been a good competition.”
Gruden noted the rotation between rookie and veteran is intended to bring out the most in both players and provide the Raiders with their best option at kicker.
“We’re just letting those kickers know anything is possible in training camp. We’re going to have a competitive situation,” Gruden said. “I think the rookie out of Florida is a capable guy. He’s a capable guy. I don’t think Tavecchio is going to relinquish that job. I think it will be competitive were going to try and stage some competitive drills.”
The alternating schedule, according to Bisaccia, allows holder and rookie punter Johnny Townsend to focus on southpaw Tavecchio and righty Pineiro solely instead of trying to shuttle back-and-forth between stances and holds. Moreover, to much of Bisaccia’s surprise, the rook from Florida has been smooth with either kicker.
“Johnny has been outstanding holding for both. I’ve never really had that before. I haven’t had a lefty and a righty before in a camp, so he’s been outstanding,” Bisaccia said. “He’s got over 400 reps just since he’s been here on holding for both. I can’t explain it. I thought it would be a big issue with it, but it’s been an easy transition for him.”
There will not be any holding shenanigans from Townsend — despite Pineiro being his college teammate at Florida — so, the competition will truly come down to who has the better showings kicking the pigskin.
“I believe we’ll go in through some of the preseason games for sure and give them both an opportunity to kick in game-like situations,” Bisaccia said. “We’ll try to create as many situations in practice as we possibly can and certainly when we get to pads. It’s a process and everything matters. … Right now, they’re nip and tuck.”
This past minicamp saw Pineiro make some impressive kicks with misses mixed in. Same for Tavecchio. As Bisaccia noted, one person will make what the other guy misses. Hence, the neck-and-neck nature of the race.
The repetitions between the two kickers belie a critical aspect Gruden wants to engrain in his football team.
“We try to get more reps than anybody in the league. We’re going to try to lead the league in effort,” Gruden said. “Repetition is the mother of learning, learned that from (ex head college football coach) Johnny Majors way back when. There’s a lot of people trying to eliminate reps and eliminate practices and I think it’s hogwash.
“We want to create as many reps as possible because it’s only a matter of time before the backup left guard has to lay; the backup quarterback has to play. And if they don’t get any reps, you’re not going to be very good at what you do.”