The Oakland Raiders are in the midst of a kicking duel between Giorgio Tavecchio and Eddy Piñeiro, but the dynamic between the specialists has been nothing but positive. Following practice Wednesday, a handful of players from the special teams unit took the podium to speak with reporters about the group’s progression through Mandatory Minicamp.
Here are the quick hits from their media session:
Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio
Tavecchio commended Raiders rookie punter Johnny Townsend for his work ethic.
“Over the past month-and-a-half I have gotten to know Johnny and respect him as a man. As you guys will come to find, he’s an incredibly hard worker, which I really appreciate. So, he’s done a good job learning and honing on holding for a lefty.”
No. 2 is focused on enhancing his own game, and isn’t getting caught up in the outside noise.
“I try not to reflect too much on the situation and where I stand again. I try to keep my eyes and my mind focused on the process. It doesn’t matter who I am or where I am, who I think I might be or who I think the coaches might think that I might be, just try to focus on my process. Again, try to find my best every day, because that’s what this team needs.”
Wide Receiver/Return Specialist Ryan Switzer
Switzer walked the media through what it was like the day he was traded from the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just the snap of the fingers your world gets flipped upside down. It is the nature of this business. I’m understanding that. Ultimately, realized that everything happens for a reason. I’m here where I’m supposed to be and happy to be here.”
He shared what his first impressions of Derek Carr and Jon Gruden were.
“The energy he [Gruden] brings every day, you can tell how much he cares about this game and the players that he has. DC has been great. So much of a natural leader with his poise and the way he carries himself. You guys know, you’ve been covering him for a while now. To have someone like that leading your ball club, everyone else has to pick it up. Everyone else has to emulate that, the way that he works, the way that he carries himself because he is the leader.”
Punter Johnny Townsend
Townsend is aware of the historically great punters who’ve sported the iconic Silver and Black uniform.
“Some of the best punters in NFL history have come through here. Ray Guy, Shane Lechler. There are some big shoes to fill. I’m going to play my role this year coming in as a rookie and try to have the biggest impact that I possibly can.”
Kicker Eddy Piñeiro
The former University of Florida Gator divulged what led him to pursue a career as an NFL kicker.
“My dad played professional soccer and football. I wasn’t a big football-time player. It all started when one day he said, ‘Hey, let’s go to the Alabama football camp.’ I said, ‘Hey, if I go here and they offer me, then I’m going to keep playing football. If not, I’m done playing football. I’m going to keep playing soccer.’ I went up there and I did really good. They offered me and it pretty much took off from there.”
He shared what it’s been like learning from Tavecchio thus far.
“He’s helped me out a lot. We share our little secrets together, if that makes sense, as far as kicking wise.”