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Raiders 'Special' In One Area

Despite Oakland's struggles on both offense and defense, the Raiders do have some formidable weapons on special teams, especially when it comes to their kickers.

Punter Shane Lechler might be the NFL's best at his position. His 46.9-yard punting average is the highest in NFL history for players with at least 250 attempts. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has his ups and downs, but he's also capable of stepping back to 50-plus yards and drilling kicks.

On Sunday afternoon, Lechler, who ranks first in the league in both gross (52.4) and net (44.5) punting average, will be punting to DeSean Jackson, the NFL's top punt returner.

Jackson, who boasts a 19.2 punt return average, has studied film of Lechler and knows he'll need to make some adjustments.

"He's got a huge leg and good hang time, so I have to be aware of that and move back a little bit," Jackson said. "They do a good job covering punts, too, so it's hard returning punts against them."

The ever-consistent Lechler can help change the field position battle with one kick. Lechler recorded a career-high 33 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line in 2008 and has 10 so far in 2009.

In terms of his distance, Lechler has picked up where he left off in 2008, having recorded at least one punt of over 50 yards in every game so far in 2009 after booming four punts of over 50 yards during the October 11 contest on the road against the New York Giants. He also has booted three 60-plus yards punts and even a 70-yarder this season. Lechler recorded punts of more than 50 yards in every game in 2008 and had at least one punt of 50 yards or longer in 13 games in 2007.

"(He is) a very talented guy," said special teams coordinator Ted Daisher, who held the same position with the Raiders in 2006. "I think the most important thing when you're facing someone like Shane is that the returner has to have an awareness of how deep he needs to align. I think that's the biggest thing. Having an awareness of that is going to be key in the game."

Janikowski, meanwhile, has five touchbacks to his credit this season (tied for fifth in the NFL in that category). The 10-year veteran, who has recorded 134 career touchbacks, tied for second in the NFL by matching a career-high with 22 touchbacks on kickoffs during the 2008 season.

In terms of field goals, almost a year ago (October 19, 2008) he connected on a 57-yard game-winning field goal in overtime to lift the Raiders over the Jets at the Oakland Coliseum. That kick broke his own team record for longest field goal in Raider history.

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 3:05 p.m., October 17, 2009

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