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Rookie Eddy Pineiro has good day kicking on Day 1 of Raiders minicamp, will rotate days with incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio

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NCAA Football: Alabama-Birmingham at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest battles happening this off-season is for the kicker position between Georgio Tavecchio and Eddy Pineiro. Though Tavecchio held down the job well last season in lieu of long time Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski who was lost to injury, Pineiro seemed to have a leg up in the competition so far. The rookie was one of college football’s best kickers last season at Florida before signing with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent.

Pineiro handled the kicking duties in Day 1 of mandatory mini camps and the reports coming back show he had an impressive day. He definitely did not hurt the perception he is leading the competition considering the glowing reports of his performance.

It helps Pineiro’s case that the 5th round rookie Johnny Townsend who is likely to be the Raiders punter this year was also a Florida Gator and Pineiro’s holder last year. Another possible sign of Pineiro’s lead in the competition was his handling of kicking duties in day 1 of minicamp.

Though head coach Jon Gruden said Pineiro kicked the ball very well yesterday, he cautions not to read too much into his handling kicking duties for the day.

“It’ll be a battle into camp,” Gruden said of the kicker position. “Tavecchio has had a heck of a camp. It just so happens that it was Eddy’s turn to kick today. We’re not going one kick here, one kick there, taking turns and rotating. It’s Tavecchio’s day. It’s Piñeiro’s day. It allows these guys to mentally go out there and be better instead of rotating. It’s going to be a battle. The young kid can kick the ball and Tavecchio has proven he’s an NFL kicker.”

It’s a good problem to have a battle between two capable kickers. Tavecchio proved last season he belongs in the NFL somewhere whether he beats out the talented rookie he is currently battling in Oakland, and Pineiro has looked NFL ready since he arrived in Oakland.

Tavecchio will have his day next to prove he belongs in the Raiders plans, something he is familiar with having to do after battling with Seabass.