The life of a kicker in professional football has its ups and downs. Daniel Carlson of the Raiders has experienced both this season.
In September, the Vikings released Carlson a day after he missed all three field-goal attempts in a 29-29 overtime tie against the Green Bay Packers. In overtime, Carlson missed a 35-yarder that would have won the game.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said the decision to release Carlson was “pretty easy.”
Minnesota had traded up into the fifth round of this year’s draft to select Carlson out of Auburn, and he won the job during training camp. Yet the team axed him after just two games when he went 1-for-4 on field-goal tries.
But the Raiders signed Carlson on Oct. 24 and he’s been solid. He’s 6-of-7 on field-goal tries and was perfect on all three attempts this past weekend in a 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, including a 35-yarder at the end of the game.
Carlson said he tried to just remain calm as he prepared for the winning kick against the Cardinals and not “let the moment be too big.”
“That was almost a little redemption,” he said of the 35-yard game-winner. “The one I missed in Minnesota was probably 35 yards, so with this one I think it was, too. It’s cool to finally get the opportunity again like that. Obviously it was cool for the team. I’m happy to be here, love getting with all these guys, and they’ve been welcoming me really well. I’m excited to keep working toward the future.”
The Raiders have gone through several kickers this season because of injuries. Gruden is pleased with Carlson.
“We’ve been looking for a kicker that can make critical kicks,” Gruden told reporters. “A guy that can help us change field position with kickoffs, and so far we’re really happy with him.”
Carlson had a strong four-year career at Auburn, including making 13 field goals from 50 yards or more, but he suffered accuracy issues as a senior in 2017, making just 23-of-31 kicks after making 28-of-32 as a junior.
The 2-8 Raiders travel to Baltimore to take on the 5-5 Ravens Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.