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Raiders change in kickers made in part to streamline holding duties for Johnny Townsend but still ‘battle’ for kicker job

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NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Friday the battle between Giorgio Tavecchio and rookie Eddy Pineiro ended with Tavecchio’s release. And replaced with veteran Mike Nugent.

Before the move, Raiders punter Johnny Townsend had to learn how to hold for the right-footed Pineiro and the left-footed Tavecchio. Depending on who would be kicking, Townsend would have to execute completely opposite motions to hold for the two kickers on alternating days.

While Townsend has shown some ambidextrous holding abilities, it never made much sense to have to continue to hold from both sides. It is better to master one side of the operation and forget the second than be preoccupied with both. It seems that idea played an important role in Jon Gruden letting Tavecchio go in favor of Nugent.

“I think the young kid is really kicking the ball well and it’s hard to get a right footed kicker and a left footed kicker and the holder in the operation tight enough,” Gruden said. “[Mike] Nugent is a guy we think we have a lot of familiarity with. I just think that the two right handed kickers is going to help the operation. The snapper, nobody talks about the snap and hold. Everyone thinks it’s all the kicker. The operation will be much better. Tavecchio is a good kicker and we wanted to see if he could catch on with another team. We appreciate Giorgio. He’s a pro. He did a lot of great things for us. We have a battle still at the kicking position.”

Nugent is an NFL kicker of 13 seasons with a career 81% field goal average, offering proven competition for Pineiro.