Substitute punter may stick around

Kevin Stemke was originally signed to provide relief for the Raiders when punter Shane Lechler injured his kicking leg midway through training camp. But with Lechler still ailing and the start of the regular season less than two weeks away, Oakland might be forced to keep Stemke longer than expected.

Stemke is averaging 42.7 yards since signing with the Raiders just prior to the team's Aug. 15 preseason game against Tennessee. During Oakland's win over San Francisco on Saturday, Stemke strengthened his stock with a 45.6-yard average that included three kicks downed inside the 49ers 20, though he was the beneficiary of some fairly generous rolls along the way.

Stemke's performance for the Raiders in the two games should make the coaching staff rest at least a little easier if Lechler is not available for the regular season-opener Sept. 8 against Seattle.

''We've got to make some decisions relative to that area,'' said Callahan. ''Shane's evaluation is going to be considered, it has to be considered. We're going to see how it plays out. But I was very impressed with (Stemke's) ability to come in, and in the short time he's been here, produce as well as he did.''

NOTE: Tight end Jeremey Brigham suffered an MCL sprain in his left leg and is questionable to play against Arizona on Thursday.


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