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Comparing Raiders 2012 vs 2013: Specialists

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How do the Raiders 2013 specialists stack up against the 2012 version?

Thearon W. Henderson

We are down to the final comparison group - the specialists. Since we can't go through and cover the entirety of the special teams, we will focus on those guys who give "football" it's name.

2012: (K) Sebastian Janikowski, (P) Shane Lechler, (LS) Jon Condo

2013: (K) Sebastian Janikowski, (P) Chris Kluwe, (LS) Jon Condo, (P) Marquette King

Advantage: 2012

In some ways, this is a no-brainer. The Raiders had the best punter in the NFL and statistically the best punter of all time - Shane Lechler. He left and there is no replacement that would be an upgrade.

Chris Kluwe was signed as a free agent while Marquette King was held onto from last year to see if he could develop into an NFL punter. Those two are not even close to making anyone forget about Shane Lechler's majestic moon shots.

There is a bright side, however. Lechler had a down year (for him) in 2012 due in large part to some terrible special teams coaching. The Raiders new special teams coordinator, Bobby April, is extremely accomplished so Lechler's replacement will not have to deal with the same coverage team and blocking issues he did last season.

So, while there won't be the same level of talent without Lechler, it could balance out or even improve with some better overall special teams play. And of course, Sebastian Janikowski will continue to be the best kicker in the NFL along with Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo.

And if it makes you feel any better, you can throw in the kick and punt returners. Jacoby Ford is back healthy and he is joined by Pro Bowl return man, Josh Cribbs.

Stay tuned for the comprehensive comparison between 2012 and 2013.