NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Plan A at kicker was looking shaky.
Sebastian Janikowski began the week dealing with a back injury. The Raiders’ concern level was enough to work out three kickers Monday. On Friday, the Raiders were booked to travel to Tennessee, a trip not ideal for a 39-year-old with a bad back.
Better to be prepared.
The team listed Janikowski as questionable for Sunday’s season opener at the Tennessee Titans. For insurance, Oakland signed kicker Giorgio Tavecchio to its practice squad. The 27-year-old traveled Friday and could be signed Saturday onto the 53-man roster.
Janikowski is not the team’s only medical situation of note.
The Raiders ruled out fullback Jamize Olawale (quad) and safety Keith McGill II (quad) for Sunday. Olawale’s absence leaves the club without its best lead run blocker in the backfield and a top special teamer. The Raiders are down to three healthy running backs and three healthy tight ends, so tight end Pharaoh Brown is a candidate for promotion from the practice squad.
Cornerback Gareon Conley (shin) and inside linebacker Cory James (knee) join Janikowski as questionable. Conley was listed as a limited participant in practice all week. He hasn’t practiced without limits since June.
“It’s good to have him back out and practicing,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “He was limited throughout the week. He’s also a guy that we’ll make a decision as we get closer to the game.”
For a number of reasons, Tavecchio is an ideal Plan B option at kicker.
He was with the Raiders all training camp — and the 2014 and 2015 camps. Also, like Janikowski, he is left-footed. The combination should mean a smooth transition for holder Marquette King, who is comfortable holding for left-footed kickers and knows how Tavecchio likes the ball placed.
On Monday, the Raiders worked out Josh Lambo, Mike Nugent and Marshall Koehn. All are right-footed.
Review-Journal intern Chris Booker contributed to this story. Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.