Chris Kluwe focused on punting job in Oakland
A vocal marriage equality activist, there might be a lot outside interests such as the ongoing Supreme court battle over Proposition 8 that could occupy Kluwe’s time in Oakland. But Kluwe said he will let the Supreme Court handle the issue and will instead focus on winning the punting job to make the 53-man roster.
"My first plan is to make the team," said Kluwe. "That's the overriding influence right now.”
Kluwe will have some big shoes to fill In Oakland, attempting to the NFL's all-time leading punter Shane Lechler. The 13-year veteran Lechler, who was a 2000 draft pick by the Raiders, parted ways with the team this offseason and signed as a free agent with the Houston Texans.
“Hopefully I fit in pretty well. For me, I just want to come out and help the Raiders win in any way I can. That's what my job here is to do: Help the football team win games."
The 31-year-old Kluwe’s main competition will be second-year pro Marquett King, who remained impressive through training camp last summer but ended up spending the 2012 season on the Raiders’ injured reserve. The Raiders also waived undrafted free agent punter Bobby Cowan to create roster spot for Kluwe.
Kluwe spent the past eight seasons with the Vikings after he had appeared in 127 career games for the team. But the Vikings drafted punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft and opted to cut Kluwe last week instead of paying him $1.45 million salary he would have been owed for next season. Last season, Kluwe played all 16 games, punting 72 times for 3,237 yards to average 45 yards per punt (third most of his career) and post a career-high 39.7 net punting average. He holds the franchise record with a 44.4-yard career punting average, and ranks second all-time in Minnesota history 37.9 net average. He only had one of his 623 career punts blocked while with the Vikings.
"The only reason it got blocked is that I dropped it. That's one of those things I also pride myself on, that I have one of the quickest get-off times in the NFL,” said Kluwe. “It hopefully takes some pressure off the guys blocking up front where they can get down and get in coverage faster because they know I'm going to get the ball off.”