Punting battle heating up in Oakland

There is competition all over the field in Oakland, and the race to replace star Shane Lechler is one of the more intriguing battles.

It appears the race between veteran Chris Kluwe and youngster Marquette King will be one of the competitions that last through the preseason. Lechler signed with Houston and Oakland brought Kluwe in. Kluwe was widely considered the favorite because of his experience. King is strong-legged, but has lacked consistency.

However, King fared better in the preseason opener and has showed increased consistency. That could bode well for him.

“I’ve seen improvement,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said of King on Monday. “I’ve seen his consistency get better and I think that’s a good battle. I think that’s a good competition between him and Kluwe. Marquette, he’s a guy that’s working extremely hard and he’s gotten better. The consistency with him as far as the punts, as far as the get-off times -- the little details are the things that we’re still hoping to see him continue to improve. I think the last week or so, I’ve seen a lot of improvement out of him, so I think it’s a nice competition we have going there.”

If King outplays and out-practices Kluwe, he will win this job because of his potential. But if he can’t convince the team that he is ready, Kluwe could get the edge based on the importance of experience at the position.

In other Oakland notes:

Allen said the team is targeting Friday as the date rookie D.J. Hayden will be cleared for contact and the goal remains that he will play in the third preseason game, against Chicago on Aug. 23. Hayden has been working in non-contact drills as he comes back from a life-threatening injury to his heart he suffered last November.

Andre Gurode continues to play at guard because of an injury to Mike Brisiel. Brisiel could have trouble getting his job back.