We're into single digits! Just nine days left until the Raiders kick off their 2015 season in Oakland against the Cincinnati Bengals. The choice for best to wear number nine was between two guys. Not because they were the only two good candidates, but because they were the only two guys to ever wear that number. Just Billy Joe Hobert and this guy.
Who wore it best: P Shane Lechler (2000-12)
Two days after his draft mate Sebastian Janikowski was the best to wear number 11, the guy who held his kicks for 13 NFL seasons gets his recognition. Lechler wasn't just the best Raiders punter since Ray Guy, he is statistically the best pure punter in NFL history. The team's 5th round pick in 2000 punted the air out of the ball with the most impressive and consistent arching spirals you'll ever see.
This former high school quarterback, is the NFL's all-time leader in career punt average with a 47.55. His 51.14 yards per punt in 2009 is second only to Sammy Baugh for the best ever punting yardage over a single season. That same season, he had the second highest net punting average in NFL history (43.85). He also holds the fourth best ever punting average in a season with 50.77 yards per punt in 2011, making him the only ever punter to average over 50 yards per punt in multiple seasons.
During his 13 seasons in Oakland he was named All Pro six times and a Pro Bowler 7 times. Two seasons ago, he was set to become a free agent and had the chance to return to play for his hometown Houston Texans and he took it. In 2014 Ray Guy became the first ever full time punter to make the Hall of Fame. If there were ever anyone who deserves to the be second ever punter to be inducted, it's Lechler.
Who's wearing it now: QB Christian Ponder
Ponder was signed this offseason to back up Derek Carr. The fifth year quarterback was a former number 10 overall pick by the Vikings. He became a 16-game starter in 2012 and the Vikings went 10-6 that season thanks in large part to Adrian Peterson rushing for over 2000 yards.
After that season Ponder would go nine games before losing his starting job. Last season, he fell even farther down the depth chart to third. By season's end, the Vikings let him go. He rejoined Bill Musgrave who was his offensive coordinator in his successful 2012 season. Soon after he arrived, he was given the number two quarterback job and has held it ever since.
This preseason, Matt McGloin has made a strong case to take over the number two job and there is much to be worked out before the regular season gets here with regard to whom should be the primary backup on game day. As of last night, it was still Ponder which completes the preseason.