One of the most difficult positions to judge in this odd, preseason-less NFL season is at kicker.
Practice kicking situations and game kicks are two very different animals. Nothing can duplicate the pressure of an in-game kick — yet, because of the coronavirus pandemic, every NFL team must judge their kickers solely on practice until the season begins.
For the Las Vegas Raiders that is not ideal because third-season kicker Daniel Carlson has to prove he is back from an off year in 2019. Yet, so far so good, said Las Vegas special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who told reporters on Monday that Carlson has performed well in training camp and when he has failed, he has responded well to it.
“We feel like he’s come back really strong,” Bisaccia said. “He has had a tremendous offseason getting with [holder] A.J. [Cole] and doing a lot of work on his own. The day before Friday, two days in a row he went 12-for-12 and had a couple misses on Friday and came back today and had a good outing.
So, I think he’s really stronger than he was a year ago and he’s certainly in constant competition with himself. We’ve put him in a lot of pressure situations throughout the entire training camp with different kicking situations. He’s responded well.“
Carlson has been the only kicker in the Raiders’ training camp for four weeks. He performed impressively in 2018, after the Vikings cut him. Carlson made 16 of 17 field-goal attempts for the Raiders in 2018. Yet, in 2019, he made 19 of 26 field-goal attempts.
However, I would think Carlson will be on a fairly short leash if he struggles in the early season. Kickers can always be signed during the season, so while his training camp has been encouraging, Carlson will have to continue to prove himself during the season.