STATELINE, Nev. — In his 14 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Sebastian Janikowski has seen scores of teammates come and go. This year, he's seen the addition of a crop of veterans who suddenly make the 36-year-old kicker, who's also the Raiders' longest-tenured player, suddenly not feel so old.
There's new quarterback Matt Schaub, 33, already anointed as the team's starter for 2014, new defensive linemen Justin Tuck, 31, and Antonio Smith, 32, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end LaMarr Woodley, both 29. Tuck and Woodley have Super Bowl rings from their stints with the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively, while Schaub, Smith and Jones-Drew have each been selected for at least one Pro Bowl and bring playoff experiences of their own.
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The Raiders are hoping the influx of veterans help them try to rebound from back-to-back four-win seasons and end a playoff drought that extends back to 2002.
"I'm not sure if it's a message. It's just guys who want to win, and guys who have won championships before," Janikowski told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday morning before playing in a pro-am at the American Century Championship on the shore of Lake Tahoe.
"That will help the young guys, and we have a lot of young guys."
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Schaub, whom the Raiders acquired from the Houston Texans in a trade, was among the most welcome newcomers after Oakland experimented with three different quarterbacks (Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin and Matt Flynn) last season. Only McGloin remains on the roster, and he's not likely to see many snaps behind Schaub and second-round draft pick Derek Carr.
"(Schaub) is a vet," Janikowski said. "That's what we need."
Janikowski is the only current NFL player playing in Tuesday's pro-am, a kickoff event for the annual celebrity golf tournament that will feature current and former stars like Aaron Rodgers and John Elway later this week. The field also includes several of Janikowski's kicking peers, including the Jacksonville Jaguars' Josh Scobee and Chicago Bears' Robbie Gould along with Denver Broncos punter Britton Colquitt.
"I guess we have a lot of down time," Janikowski said, laughing.
Janikowski said he once shot a 69 on a course in Napa, Calif., while attending Raiders training camp. He was hoping to shoot around 80 this week. Mostly, he's enjoying a final respite before reporting for his 15th training camp July 24.