Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 7/8/12

The Oakland Raiders have some of the best specialists in the NFL, marked by three Pro Bowl selections in 2011. There is not much competition at these positions because kicker Sebastian Janikowski, punter Shane Lechler, and long snapper Jon Condo are still at the top of their game. Undrafted free agent punter, Marquette King is a player to watch during training camp and the preseason to see if he is the punter of the future for the Raiders.


Last season may have been Janikowski's best as a professional. He converted 31 of 35 field goal attempts, which is good for an 88.6 percent conversion rate and made all of his extra points. His most impressive feat may have been an NFL record tying 63 yard field goal against the Denver Broncos. Always known for having one of the strongest legs in the NFL, Janikowski improved his accuracy greatly. His 88.6 percent success rate for field goals was the second best of his career, up for 80.5 in 2010, but just short of his career best 89.7 in 2009. Janikowski, barring an injury, will handle the Raiders kicking duties in 2012 and is one of the best in the league.

Even with Janikowski's impressive resume, Raiders punter Shane Lechler is the gold standard when it comes to being a specialist. Lechler has made the Pro Bowl and NFL All Pro team the last five seasons. For his career he is a seven time Pro Bowler and nine time All Pro. Even as a 13 year veteran, Lechler finished second is punting average last season with 50.8 per kick. He was one tenth of a yard behind leader Andy Lee of the 49ers. Besides being one of the best punters in the league, Lechler has a pretty good arm when called upon to fake punt or fake field goal (he holds for Janikowski). Last season he tossed a 35 yard touchdown to Kevin Boss on a fake field goal. However his best accomplishment may have been his 80 yard punt against the Chicago Bears last season.

The man that snaps the ball to aid Janikowski and Lechler sometimes goes unnoticed which is a good thing for long snapper Jon Condo. The only time a long snapper gets recognition is if something goes wrong and Condo has done little wrong in the last five years as the long snapper. A two time Pro Bowler in his own right, Condo is an important specialist for the Raiders and a key cog in their special teams play.

The only competition that will come out of this year's training camp and preseason will be to see how Marquette King performs. The undrafted free agent out of Fort Valley State is known for a strong leg that propelled him to a number five ranking last season in Division II with a 43 yard average. With Lechler as the starter, King may have a chance to play his way onto the practice squad or use his training camp and preseason to audition for a starting job elsewhere. No matter what happens, the Raiders have a very good collection of specialists for the 2012 season.


Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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