ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Sebastian Janikowski wanted to end all the criticism about his weight and kicking power. The Raiders' kicker has accomplished both tasks.
After ballooning to nearly 280 pounds a year ago, Janikowski got together with Oakland strength and conditioning coach Jeff Fisher and the two devised a workout regimen designed to shed some of the 29-year-old's extra baggage.
The results have been impressive, on the scale and on the field.
Janikowski checked in this week at a svelte 242 pounds, having dropped - according to the kicker himself - nearly 35 pounds.
After a rough start in which he made just one of his first five field-goal attempts, the former first-round draft pick has made his last five straight heading into Sunday's game at Tennessee, and is leading the NFL in touchbacks.
``I busted my (butt) working out with Fish,'' Janikowski said. ``I lost a lot of weight (but) staying in the weight room, that's the main thing. It started during training camp and it's paying off.''
Janikowski hadn't paid off much for the Raiders over the last two seasons. After signing a five-year extension worth a reported $10.5 million following the 2004 season, Janikowski made just 38 of 55 field-goal attempts and had the lowest success rate among all NFL kickers from 2005-06.
His early misses this year didn't help, either, though they're weren't all his fault. One of the three misses against Detroit was blocked while another was from 57 yards. Against Denver, Janikowski appeared to make a game-winning 52-yarder in overtime only to have to re-kick after Broncos coach Mike Shanahan called a late timeout. On the next try, Janikowski's kick hit off the top of the left upright and fell away.
Since then, however, Janikowski has been flawless and has been the Raiders' only real consistent scoring threat in recent weeks while the offense struggles to get back on track.
His 37-yard field goal against Kansas City last week tied Janikowski with Chris Bahr for the franchise record for career field goals in the regular season. He is also third on the club's career scoring list and will likely overtake George Blanda for the top spot sometime within the next year or two.
``It's cool to have a record (but it) sucks if you have a record and don't win a game,'' Janikowski said. ``I'd rather win a game than get the records.''
Janikowski is on pace to become only the second kicker since 1992 to have more than 40 touchbacks in a single season, joining Jason Hanson, who had 46 in 1993. Brad Daluiso of Denver holds the modern-day record of 52 set in '92, a year after the league starting tracking the stat.
With 16 in six games, Janikowski is on pace to finish the season with 43 touchbacks, almost double his previous career high of 22.
Janikowski credits his weight change and says the Raiders have also been flexible in their thinking. In years past he was coached to try and pin returners against the sidelines; this season Janikowski has been encouraged to cut loose with his kickoffs.
``He had a great offseason of training and his weight's down,'' Oakland coach Lane Kiffin said. ``He looks different and it's really helping in his kicking and his power. We just saw how powerful he was kicking and he felt he was kicking the best he ever has. So (cutting him loose) was pretty obvious an easy decision for us.''

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