Raiders cut kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, sign veteran Mike Nugent

NAPA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have waived incumbent placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio and signed Mike Nugent.

The left-footed Tavecchio had been in a training camp battle with undrafted rookie Eddie Piñeiro and the move seemingly gives the right-footed kicker from Florida the edge, with Nugent, who has kicked in the NFL since 2005, serving as a mentor, of sorts, for the remainder of training camp.

"I think the young kid is really kicking the ball well and it's hard to get a right-footed kicker and a left-footed kicker and the holder and the operation tight enough," coach Jon Gruden said Saturday. "And Nugent is a guy that we have a lot of familiarity with. I just think the two right-handed kickers is going to help the operation with the snapper ... the operation will be much better and Tavecchio is a good kicker and we wanted to see if he could catch on with another team.

"But we appreciate Giorgio; he's a pro, he did a lot of good things for us and we've got a battle, still, at the kicking position."

Tavecchio was an early season feel-good story for Oakland, signing the day before the Raiders' season opener at Tennessee with Sebastian Janikowski, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, being placed on injured reserve. Tavecchio made all four of his field-goal attempts (from 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards) in their 26-16 victory in Nashville.

But he faltered midseason, missing 5 of 11 in one stretch, including a missed PAT in a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 15. He finished 16-for-21 on his field goal attempts, 33-for-34 on PATs.

"In my mind, I always compete against myself," Tavecchio said at the end of mandatory minicamp in June. "When I step on the field, I try to be, and find, the best me possible. That's really where my focus has been this spring. Over the years you kind of know what to expect in the offseason. So, it's less looking around and more keeping your head down and putting your nose to the ground and trying to improve and find your best every day."

Piñeiro, meanwhile, converted 29 of his final 30 field goal attempts at Florida and was 38-for-43 in two years with the Gators, converting both attempts from at least 50 yards out and 4-for-5 from 40-49 yards.

He played soccer his first two years of college at ASA Community College in Miami and originally committed to play soccer at Florida Atlantic before deciding to play football at Florida.

Gruden said the Raiders contemplated using a seventh-round draft pick on Piñeiro.

"My dad played professional soccer and football," Piñeiro said. "I wasn't a big football-time player. It all started when one day he said, 'Hey, let's go to the Alabama football camp.' I said, 'Hey, if I go here and they offer me, then I'm going to keep playing football. If not, I'm done playing football. I'm going to keep playing soccer.'

"I went up there and I did really good. They offered me and it pretty much took off from there."

Piñeiro also has a familiar face in his holder, former Florida punter Johnny Townsend, who was drafted by Oakland in the fifth round.