ALAMEDA – The Raiders are on their second long snapper and, as of Wednesday afternoon, on their third kicker heading into the fourth regular season game.
That isn't ideal for anyone.
Injuries have caused a shake-up, especially at the kicking spot. Eddy Piñeiro was expected to be the Raiders' kicker this season, but an injured groin put him on season-ending injured reserve. Mike Nugent kicked well in his stead, but came up lame during Sunday's loss at Miami and joins Piñeiro on IR.
Enter Matt McCrane, an undrafted rookie who won a kicking competition and earned a roster spot. He will be the Raiders' kicker on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
"We liked him coming out of Kansas State," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. "We liked what he did in the preseason, he hit two 50-yard bombs and he can kick the ball out of the end zone. We are going to give him a shot."
The former Wildcat is ready for action, confident he can kick at this level after spending the preseason with the Arizona Cardinals.
He'll join an all-rookie battery with punter/holder Johnny Townsend and long snapper Trent Sieg, a crew that must come through in pressure-packed moments.
"I think it's a good opportunity for us to prove we can perform in this league," McCrane said. "We did full snap and hold attempts, and everything went great. I felt comfortable with those guys. We're going to get some work in today and go out to the stadium on Friday to get used to it."
That's smart considering the Oakland Coliseum has a baseball infield diamond that stretches through midfield. McCrane isn't worried about the unique playing surface – Oakland Coliseum is the NFL's only multi-sport stadium – after his high school experience.
"I'm from West Texas, so I've kicked off dirt before," McCrane said. "A baseball infield shouldn't be much different. It's just another chance to get better. I'll get out there, figure out what works best on that surface and be ready for Sunday."
Gruden thanked Nugent for his service, especially kicking injured against the Dolphins.
"He felt something in his hip. You could tell by his approach on kickoffs," Gruden said. "He wasn't running through the kickoffs. He was able to kick field goals. Amazing he was able to kick a 52-yard field goal to give us a chance at the end. That hip was a problem, don't know for how long. He did a nice job for us."