ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland coach Jack Del Rio brushed aside a question regarding rumors that the Raiders had given Sebastian Janikowski an ultimatum to take a pay cut and said concerns over the kicker’s health are what prompted the team to hold tryouts this week.
Speaking to reporters before practice Wednesday, Del Rio would not say specifically what is ailing Janikowski, although the kicker was on the team’s injury report with a back injury. Del Rio said he is hopeful the kicker will play Sunday when the Raiders open the regular season at Tennessee.
“I’m not good about forecasting things,” Del Rio said. “We’ll see how he goes through the work week. There was concern early in the week that we’ll need to see how he does, how he responds. We had some kickers come in here to make sure that we’re prepared in the case that he’s not able to go that we’re covered. That’s really it.”
Del Rio quickly followed that with a comment directed at rumors that the Raiders told Janikowski to take a pay cut or risk being released. Those rumors heated up when the team brought in three kickers for the tryout.
“I think it kind of took on a life of its own,” Del Rio said. “A lot of people reporting and speculating but we’re just doing our due diligence and we’ll see how the week goes.”
The 39-year-old Janikowski is 10th on the NFL’s all-time scoring list and holds nearly every kicking record in Raiders franchise history while playing in 268 games over 17 seasons. He also holds the NFL record with 55 field goals from 50 yards or longer.
A surprise first-round draft pick in 2000 when he was the 17th player selected overall, Janikowski is also entering the final year of a four-year, $15.1 million deal and is slated to earn $4.05 million in base salary this season.
Janikowski’s salary coupled with his age and results over the past two seasons — 50 of 61 (81.9 percent) on field goals — fueled speculation the Raiders were trying to get the kicker to take a pay cut.
Janikowski was at practice Wednesday but did not attempt any kicking during the 30-minute access period.
The Raiders are also uncertain if or how much first-round pick Garreon Conley will play against the Titans. Conley returned to practice last week after missing all of training camp and the preseason with a shin injury.
“We’ll see how the week goes,” Del Rio said. “We’ll know more about Sunday as we go through the week.”
Notes: Defensive end Khalil Mack (knee) was a bystander at practice. Mack took part in stretching but was not in pads and did not participate in any team drills. Fullback Jamize Olawale (quad) was also held out of practice.