This offseason, Sebastian Janikowski was a regular presence for practices. For most players that wouldn't be newsworthy, but for Seabass, it was significant. No one expected to see him in attendance at offseason practices because he never was. And it was never a big deal, because he's a kicker.
Things have changed of late for the former first round pick and Raiders all-time leading scorer. He is now 38 years of age. And he has said he wants to play into his 40s. He'd also like to take sole possession of the most ever 50+ yard field goals, which he is currently tied with former longtime Lions kicker, Jason Hanson (52).
To reach those goals, he needs to work like he hadn't worked before. Even for a kicker. Slowing down the aging process is only part of it. Janikowski has to live up to his salary as the league's fourth highest paid kicker and beat out returning challenger Giorgio Tavecchio.
Not only was he present for offseason practices, but less of him was accounted for. He had clearly taken off some weight and had been working out. It was impossible to miss.
"I worked my butt off in the offseason and I tried to get in better shape," said Janikowski. "Hopefully it's going to pay off."
"I dropped more weight. I hope I'm not going to lose any power. That's what I'm wondering because from 265 to 270 I feel like I got more power, but we'll see what the difference is going to be."
He says he's now a good 10-15 pounds lighter, while adding muscle. The new, slimmer Seabass has not gone unnoticed by his special teams coach, who confirmed my assertion that Janikowski has a renewed focus on his job.
"I think he showed that in the offseason workouts," said Brad Seely. "He came back lighter. He came back and you look at him and his body is different. What weight he has, he moved it around. He looks better to me in his football gear than he did last year. What happens with those guys is as they get older, they understand how much their body means to them. I think he's just taking better care of himself and I think that's why he's a good pro."
Janikowski signed an extension back in 2012 which at the time made him the league's highest paid kicker, and keeps him with the team through 2017. It is likely no coincidence that he will be exactly 40 years of age at the end of that contract.
Adding to his enthusiasm is the promise this team has showed that could send him out as a winner, after having suffered through 13 years of non-winning seasons.
"I love what I do," said Janikowski. "I want to bring a championship to this team. That's my goal."