ALAMEDA, Calif. — Eddy Pineiro believes in upholding law and order.
In May, the Raiders rookie kicker became the first in his family to graduate from college. He did so with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and minor in African-American studies. When his NFL career is complete, he plans to become a police officer, specifically to take drugs off the streets.
His next career will be a noble undertaking.
So will his current one, he assured Wednesday.
Pineiro is competing with incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio for the Raiders’ kicking job. He laughed Wednesday at a reporter’s suggestion that he might ask Johnny Townsend to manipulate their competition. Indeed, arguably the roster’s most intriguing position battle might be its most cordial.
Townsend, a rookie punter drafted in the fifth round, doubles as the Raiders’ holder. He and Pineiro were teammates and friends at Florida. To prompt the laughter, Pineiro was asked if he’d ever suggest to Townsend to turn in the laces when holding for Tavecchio. The two alternate practices in which they kick, and their competition is expected to carry into the preseason in August.
“Never,” Pineiro said. “I never wish bad upon nobody. Never. Never. Never.”
Townsend doesn’t seem like one to entertain such a hypothetical request.
Regardless, the kicker competition carries quite the dynamic.
Raiders special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia worked out Pineiro and Townsend on a windy day in Gainsville, Florida, leading up to the draft. Townsend was one of three punters on the club’s draft board. Pineiro was one of its two kickers.
The team first took Townsend. In the seventh round, it considered Pineiro before ultimately drafting 6-foot-4-inch wide receiver Marcell Ateman from Oklahoma State. Minutes later, Pineiro became available as an undrafted free agent and agreed to sign a three-year contract.
The position battle had begun.
Tavecchio served as the Raiders’ kicker in 2018, converting 16 of 21 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points. But as he looks to prove his place, he is somewhat out of it. He no longer has special teams coordinator and mentor Brad Seely. Andrew DePaola replaced Jon Condo at long snapper. Townsend replaced punter Marquette King as holder.
The rookie arguably has more familiarity than the veteran.
But Tavecchio is used to competition, last year his fifth NFL offseason and first campaign. He has a standard for how to approach it, open to providing Pineiro friendly feedback as they compete side by side. Tavecchio didn’t appear too concerned Wednesday with the two rookies’ history at Florida.
“It’s particular. I wouldn’t say weird,” Tavecchio said. “One of the first things Johnny told me after he introduced himself, he said, ‘I’m going to do my best to be the best holder for a lefty possible. So I don’t want you to worry about any circumstantial, behind-the-scenes favoritism.’ Nothing that I have seen so far has suggested that. He’s really gone out of his way to do the best holding for a lefty, and he’s done a good job.”
Pineiro wouldn’t ask for anything less.