Why Raiders' Giorgio Tavecchio isn't looking beyond his next kick

ALAMEDA —  The locker of Sebastian Janikowski has been cleaned out for two weeks, and he hasn’t been seen at the facility since the club returned Nov. 6 after a week in Florida.

The Raiders’ all-time leader in games played with 268 may never see 269.

Nothing is official, but it sure feels like one of the most famous draft picks ever made by Al Davis has played his last game as a Raider.

Janikowski, 39, did not respond to inteview requests.

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The job remains on the left instep of Giorgio Tavecchio, the former Campolindo High and Cal place kicker who leads the Raiders in scoring with 61 points.

Janikowski has been on injured reserve all season with a back injury sustained late in the preseason, and coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday there was never any thought to bringing him back.

“I don’t believe he’s been cleared to the point of being ready to do that,” Del Rio said. “But it wasn’t ever a consideration. I think Giorgio’s has handled the job, done a nice job with it. There’s no reason to change at this point.”

Tavecchio will look no farther than his next kick against the New York Giants Sunday at the Coliseum. He insists he’s not auditioning for 2018 because he’s locked in on the here and now.

“I feel I’ve been very focused on my job,”  Tavecchio said. “Every week I’m very much rooted in the routine and the process and kind of take it week by week, game by game, kick by kick. I’m starting a new life every week.”

Tavecchio was a Raiders waiver claim in 2014 and was brought back in 2015 and 2016 to be a camp leg to keep Janikowski fresh. He was released for a fourth time at the final cutdown this year, only to return after a two-day period where Janikowski first accepted a $1 million pay cut and then went on injured reserve with a back injury.

“Obviously I hope to make him proud because I’ve looked up to him and he’s been a great role model,” Tavecchio said. “But I’m very much focused in doing my job and contributing to this team the best I can.”

Janikowski, who can be wary around people he doesn’t know, and Tavecchio said he was no different than anyone else in that regard.

“I came in in a humble way. I’m not trying to ruffle his feathers,” Tavecchio said. “I respect him and the way he goes about his business and tried to learn from him as much as possible. I think over the years he’s opened up a little bit. I’ve always tried to approach him in a respectful way and I think he appreciates that.”

Contact this season has been minimal, however.

“I haven’t seen him too much,” Tavecchio said. “I’ve been praying for him because I know injuries aren’t easy and I imagine what he must be going through.”

Tavecchio has converted 12 of 15 field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards, is 25-for-26 on conversions and has 35 touchbacks with 11 returns, five of those covered inside the 20-yard line.

But Tavecchio is coming off a bad miss against Denver, a 35-yard wide left attempt that could have put the Raiders up 24-14 with 5:50 to play. The Raiders wouldn’t put the game away until Derek Carr completed a 54-yard pass to Cordarrelle Patterson with 2:24 left.

“I leaned in to my left just a little bit before starting my approach,” Tavecchio said. “It altered my swing just a little bit –we’re talking a matter of few inches which turns into a couple of yards in the air unfortunately. You move on.”