By Steve Corkran
ALAMEDA – Kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler were inextricably linked the past 13 seasons. Now that Lechler is gone, Janikowski is left to go it alone as the Raiders most-tenured player.
The kicking duo was inseparable since they joined the Raiders in 2000, from the field to the locker room to the golf course. It became difficult mentioning one without the other.
“Shane and me were such good buddies,” Janikowski said. “But it’s business, and we got to move on.”
Lechler moved on to the Houston Texans. Janikowski insists that he isn’t going to follow suit once his contract ends after this season.
In fact, Janikowski said he intends to play seven or eight more seasons, if not longer, and he is hopeful that he finishes his career with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft.
“I want to play as much as I can,” Janikowski said. “I want to win the Super Bowl. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Janikowski is playing for his eighth head coach. Change is something he is quite accustomed to playing for a Raiders team that has been in flux since they played in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season.
He admits that he still doesn’t know the names of all the players he sees in the locker room right now.
Still, he’s having fun, kicking as well as ever and taking his job far more seriously than he did early in his career.
To that end, Janikowski has shed at least 10 pounds – he refused to give the exact figure – and looks as lean as at any point since he joined the Raiders.
“You’re getting older and there are a lot of guys out there younger than you,” Janikowski said in explaining the reason for the weight loss. “You just got to keep up with it. It’s your job. You got to take it seriously. … At first, (as a) young guy at 24, 26, you don’t think that way. Now it’s totally different. I got a family, two little kids, it’s totally different.”