Daniel Carlson was one of just two kickers selected in this year’s NFL draft, taken in the fifth round by Minnesota.
Carlson lasted two games with the Vikings, who released him after he missed three field-goal attempts, including two in overtime, in a Week 2 tie with the Packers.
It was an abrupt end to Carlson’s first NFL job and, he said Thursday, an eye-opening experience.
I think you learn a lot from moments like that,” Carlson said. “Obviously, it sucks, but I think I did learn a lot the last four, five weeks since that happened — grew up, kind of learned the business and some of the NFL experience you hear about. It’s different when you actually have to go through it versus when you just hear about it.”
The Raiders signed Carlson on Tuesday and waived Matt McCrane, their kicker the past three games. Carlson will be the third kicker for Oakland in this regular season (McCrane, Mike Nugent) and the fifth going back to training camp (Giorgio Tavecchio and Eddy Piñeiro).
Carlson was the SEC’s Special Teams Player of the Year his final two seasons at Auburn, which he left as the conference’s leader in career points (480) and field goals (92). He had a 48-yard field goal in his NFL debut against the 49ers, but missed — wide right — from 48, 49 and 35 yards in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.
At 6-foot-5, Carlson is tall for a kicker and said that height can sometimes exaggerate mistakes in his technique.
“If I have a little angle off in the hip, it’s a bigger difference down in my foot,” he said. “So I have to be that much more detailed and have that much cleaner technique than maybe a shorter guy might have.”
Carlson said his build, though, does help with longer kicks and kickoffs — one area Raiders head coach Jon Gruden cited as needing to improve after the team’s loss to Seattle in London on Oct. 14.
McCrane, who made 5 of 9 field-goal tries in three games for Oakland, recorded touchbacks on just 3 of 13 kickoffs. Carlson produced touchbacks on 9 of 10 kickoffs for Minnesota.
Given how his first NFL experience ended, Carlson said he has something to prove in his second.
“Obviously when you have a rough game, you always want to respond that next one and for me, it kind of stinks having to wait this long,” he said. “But I’m excited to be back out there Sunday and kind of put all my work to the test.”