NAPA In Shane Lechler, the Raiders have a punter who has represented the AFC at the last five Pro Bowls. When undrafted rookie Marquette King signed with Oakland this offseason, King said, it was "mostly for the coaching."
King has received that and more. With Lechler sidelined by a knee injury in training camp and unlikely to return before the Raiders' preseason opener against Dallas on Monday, punting duties have fallen to King.
"Lechler in OTAs and minicamp showed me a few things that can do a lot for my game," King said. "And (special-teams coach Steve Hoffman) gives me all the attention I need every practice, working with all the little technical stuff. They've basically developed me into a total different person when it comes to punting."
For one, King said he no longer drops the ball with two hands. He also has shortened his approach. A week ago, he would take a shuffle and two steps into the kick. Now, he said it's a step and a half, "so I'm getting the ball off a lot faster, have a lot more time."
A mechanics overhaul in the middle of camp likely isn't common, but King said he has become comfortable with the changes quickly.
"It came real quick, just because I want it," King said. "I don't want to go out first game looking like I haven't punted before. I want to be coachable."
The Rutland, Ga., native took up punting late in his high school career, where he played mostly receiver. He didn't get serious about it until after his freshman year at Division II Fort Valley State, he said, when his coach told him he could no longer play receiver.
As a college senior, King averaged 43 yards a punt and placed 21 of 60 inside the 20-yard line. He has showed a strong leg in camp, along with the propensity to shank a kick.
"Obviously, you guys see him, when he hits it, he hits it as good as anybody," said head coach Dennis Allen. "He's just got to work on staying consistent."
King said he's already having adrenaline rushes at night thinking about his first NFL preseason game, which also amounts to an opportunity to showcase himself for the other 31 teams in the league.
Or does he feel like he's competing for a job now?
"I don't even have that mindset," King said. "I just come in here ready to learn. Whatever plan God has, it's going to work out however he wants. I just come out here and learn and have fun."
Goodson recovering Running back Mike Goodson watched part of practice Friday and rode an exercise bike but said he doesn't know when he'll return to the field. Goodson was hospitalized following a collision in practice Tuesday but was released that night after a CT scan and MRI came back negative.
"Right now, it's just a little soreness left in my neck, kind of like having a crick in your neck when you wake up in the morning," he said. "A little more intense than that, but that's pretty much it. Soon as they give me the green light to go, I'm going to be ready to go."
Et cetera Joining the injury list Friday were safety Tyvon Branch (back spasm), wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee), tackle Zach Hurd (head) and tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder). Linebacker Aaron Curry (knee) is seeing a specialist in Los Angeles because he is not recovering as the Raiders had hoped, Allen said.
The Raider Nation Celebration will be held Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. in the south parking areas of O.co Coliseum. The event includes introduction of Raiders players and children's activities. Admission and parking are free.