Hue Jackson never sounds worried. The Raiders Head Coach is always cool, calm and confident. But somewhere in his mind, he has to be somewhat concerned. The Raiders start an important portion of their schedule on Sunday, with three straight games against AFC West opponents and several key positions have question marks next to them.
Heading into Sunday's game against Kansas City, it appears the Raiders will start newly acquired Quarterback Carson Palmer, a player who, just one week ago, was sitting at home and considered himself retired. Palmer could very well step in and be the All-Pro signal caller that the Raiders expect, or he could take some time to settle into the role.
More concerning, however, is the potential loss of Kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who has a hamstring injury. The Raiders kicker has always been a scoring weapon since being drafted in the first round in the 2000 NFL Draft, but he's been particularly potent this season, including tying an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal.
The true value Janikowski brings to the Raiders offense is his accuracy from long range. He's a perfect three-for-three from 40-49 yards, and an incredible five-of-six from 50 or more yards out. It's this long-range scoring that gives the Raiders that additional option that other teams don't have. He affects the opponent's defensive philosophy.
Janikowski is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Chiefs. During his regular Friday press conference, Head Coach Hue Jackson wouldn't say whether Janikowski would play.
"It's a huge part of our football team if (Janikowski) can't go." Jackson told Raiders.com on Friday.
The Raiders worked out three free agent kickers on Friday, including Dave Rayner, Ricky Schmitt and Rhys Lloyd. All three are journeymen, with each spending time with multiple organizations, mostly in training camp and practice squad capacities.
The one thing that is certain is that none of the three possesses the power and accuracy of Janikowski, and that's bad news for the Raiders if he can't play Sunday.