Daniel Carlson is ready for pressure kicks

Aug 21, 2018 | by Matthew Coller, 1500 ESPN

Maybe you’ve noticed that the Minnesota Vikings have had some notable kicking faux pas in the past. So when the team makes a change from a kicker who came through in a playoff game to a rookie, it’s worth wondering whether the kid will be able to handle big situations.

Daniel Carlson, 23, was officially named the winner of the Vikings’ kicking competition on Monday over veteran Kai Forbath. While Forbath had his moments — especially with extra points — he did put the Vikings ahead late in the team’s divisional playoff win over the New Orleans Saints with a 52-yard field goal.

Now as Carlson takes a spot that has been the bane of Vikings fans’ existence — on a team with Super Bowl aspirations — he understands the pressure that comes along with that role.

“At the end of the day it’s who can make important kicks and who the team has confidence in,” Carlson said. “I feel really good that the coaches and staff have entrusted me with that confidence and I think I have to earn that and prove it again and again.”

Carlson faced plenty of big kicks in college playing at Auburn, where he made 80.7 percent of his attempts over four years and went 8-for-10 against Alabama.

The rookie said that while there’s no way to emulate the pressure of an NFL kick, the feeling of performing for his job every day throughout camp has helped simulate the difficult environment.

”That’s one of the things that competition really helps, every kick is a pressure kick,” Carlson said. “You know your job is on the line and it’s going to be decided on a few different kicks. I think over the years I’ve experienced it in college, it’s a little different in the NFL but you’ve gotta treat every kick the same, whether it’s to win the Super Bowl or just a preseason game or just practice.”

At least for now, Carlson wants to be in the spotlight because that means he’s playing on a relevant team.

”Definitely embrace,” Carlson said. “You want to be on a winning team and I came into a situation with what they did last season, I’m going to take that and run with it and do my job…and hopefully be a part of that success. As a kicker I hope I get lots of extra points and when we get some big field goals, I’ll be ready.”

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said that Carlson’s mental makeup and personality was an important part of the decision-making process to draft him back in May.

“I interviewed him twice at the combine, I took him out to dinner the night before I worked him out,” Priefer said. “Then watched tape with him for an hour and half and did the workout with him. So I probably spent maybe six total hours with him down at Auburn. I think that’s important. Personality of a kicker is very, very important. How he handles pressure and how he handles success and how he handles failure for that matter.”

Priefer added that Carlson’s college experience with big kicks should help him adapt to the NFL.

“Kicking in the SEC, he kicked in front of 90,000 or 100,000 fans every week,” Priefer said. “So, I don’t think kicking in front of big crowds is going to be a bother for him. It’s not going to both him. He’s a very composed young man.”

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