Placekicker Daniel Carlson of the Las Vegas Raiders seems to have regained his footing.
The 6-5, 215-pound Carlson was nearly perfect as a rookie two years ago after the Raiders picked him up on waivers from the Minnesota Vikings, making 16-of-17 field-goal attempts and all 18 of his extra-point tries over the last 10 games of the season.
Carlson continued to be reliable until suddenly losing his touch over the last six games a year ago when he missed 6-of-19 field-goal tries and two extra points.
But the Raiders didn’t give up on him and it’s paid off.
“We feel like he’s come back really strong,” special teams coach Rich Bisaccia said during training camp. “He’s had a tremendous offseason getting together with (punter) AJ (Cole) and doing a lot on his own.”
Carlson showed from the 2020 opener that he was back on track, kicking two field goals and four extra points that proved to be instrumental in a 34-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers, and had the same numbers the following week against the New Orleans Saints, including a 54-yard field goal that virtually sewed up a 34-24 victory.
In five games, Carlson has connected on 11-of-12 field goals attempts and made 16-of-17 extra-point tries.
After that one missed an extra point in the fourth quarter of the last game against the Kansas City Chiefs that left the Raiders with only a six-point lead, Carlson came back minutes later to kick a 43-yard field goal that pushed the lead to more than a touchdown and Silver and Black went on to upset the Super Bowl champions, 40-32.
However, Carlson isn’t getting carried away with his start because he knows from last season that there’s a long way to go.
“Obviously, it’s good to have a good start, good to have a good start by the team with a couple of big wins,” said Carlson, who has kicked three field goals of more than 50 yards this season without a miss. “But it’s all about the next game and just keeping that mindset. Just take it one day at a time.
“Obviously, I’ve learned each year as I’ve grown. Learned from some tough ways and some mistakes. But it’s led to a pretty good place at the moment. I feel good about where I’m at.”
Carlson’s work with Cole, during practice when the offense and defense have been on the field and during the offseason, has enabled the kickers to have formed a tight bond.
That pays off when they take the field together.
“He was training and living in Alabama a couple of hours from me, so we were able to drive together and meet up and train in Alabama, as well as some in Vegas before, just doing that smart during COVID and stuff,” Carlson said of Cole.
“So, it’s been nice to kind of have that preparation. Obviously, this offseason was weird, it was a lot different than normal, so we wanted to take measures into our own hands and make sure we were prepared from day one and continued to build off the relationship we had last year and kind of are continuing this year.
“ … He’s a true professional. It’s nice to be friends with the guys you work with, and we’re just continuing to work on that.”
Said Cole: “I think one of the goals for us is to have the best battery in all of football. We do a lot of communication about what the wind’s doing, what line Daniel’s going to be playing, and how he wants the hold. It’s gotten to the point where at times it’s unspoken and we just kind of like Daniel just starts to say it and I’m like, ‘Yup, got it.’
“We’ve done a great job, I think really getting a lot of reps from a little over a year ago when I got here all the way through now, working together all offseason through the OTA period we could’ve had and through training camp. We’ve really improved our relationship and there’s a lot of things that don’t need to be said. I have a lot of confidence in him and I think he has a lot of confidence in me, and I think that us having that relationship really helps translate to results on the field.”
It’s obvious, the Raiders kicking game is in good hands, and feet.
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