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Silver Minings: A very ‘specialist’ friendship

A kicker + a punter = an amazing friendship

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Who has been the best duo on the team so far this season? Maybe Derek Carr and Darren Waller? Or maybe a defensive duo? What about ... hmmmm, I don’t know ... what about their kicker and punter?

Entering the bye week, Daniel Carlson was easily having the best season of his young career. After a prolific career at Auburn, Carlson struggled to get going through his first two seasons in the NFL. He has since flipped the switch and is looking like a potential Pro Bowl candidate.

Carlson has converted nearly 92% of his kicks this season, including a 54-yard career high against the Saints that was essentially a game-winner.

“Just taking it one day at a time,” Carlson said when speaking to the media. “It’s good to have a good start for the team, couple of big wins, but it’s all about the next game. Just keeping that mindset. I feel good where I’m at and just taking one day at a time from there.”

Well, when you’re having a great season as a kicker, a large reason for that is the success of your placeholder. For him, that’s AJ Cole, who also happens to be the Raiders’ punter as well. There’s a reason for Carlson’s success, as the two trained together in Alabama during the offseason and built good chemistry going into training camp this season.

Carlson was also able to train with Cole in Las Vegas before the COVID-19 pandemic began to get into shape for the season.

“He’s a true professional,” Carlson said. “It’s nice to be friends with the guys you work with, and we’re just continuing to work on that.

Cole isn’t having the kind of success Carlson is having, mainly because he has punted the fewest times out of any punter this season. On the year, he’s averaging about 40 yards per punt and has had two within the 20-yard line.

He knows he’s a punter, and the casual fan might not even know what his name is. But to him, that’s completely OK.

“There might be certain teams that don’t really care too much about the punter, but I feel that there’s a lot of fans out there that really are informed and really care about the punter position because the Raiders have had the best in history at the position,” he said. “I’m just excited to have the opportunity to represent this organization week in and week out.”

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