The Green Bay Packers knew that there would be ups and downs that come with relying on a rookie kicker, and right now, Anders Carlson is very much experiencing those highs and lows.
Carlson would kick 12 times during Packers’ minicamp and made 11-of-12. The first group came from inside the Don Hutson Center and ranged from 40 to 54 yards–he would make two of the three attempts. The next set of six came outside the following day and were between 33 yards and 42 yards. Carlson would make all three kicks.
Fast forward to training camp, and again, Carlson was off to a nice start, going 5-for-5 from between 40 and 45 yards. His miss came at the 45-yard mark.
However, over the last three practices, where Carlson has kicked 12 times, we’ve seen him battling inconsistency. This past Saturday, he was just 1-for-6, missing all three attempts between 45 and 49 yards and then making one of his next three from 50 to 53 yards.
"“It’s one practice,” said Matt LaFleur on Monday. “Certainly, you don’t want to see it, but it happens. It’s only a detriment if you don’t learn from it and don’t correct it. So it’s going to be fun how he responds.”"
Then during Tuesday’s practice, while Carlson did improve from Saturday’s performance, he was still a bit erratic. Carlson would go 2-for-3 from 40 to 45 yards, missing wide right from 40. He was then 2-for-3 again, this time from 48, 48, and 52 yards, missing wide right from 49.
The Packers then ended practice with two end-of-game situations for Carlson. He made the kick from 45 yards but missed from 52 yards. Most recently, during Thursday’s practice, Carlson was 4-of-6, missing the first kick – from 41 and 47 yards – on the two sets of three he attempted. Overall, he is now 16-for-27 during training camp.
What’s evident when watching Carlson kick is the power that he has–that part is not going to be an issue for him. But as LaFleur mentioned a few weeks ago when speaking to the media, the challenge for him will be harnessing that power and finding consistency.
While at Auburn, Carlson made 71% of his 107 field goal attempts, including hitting 25-of-39 from 40 to 49 yards and 4-of-16 from 50-plus. He also dealt with an ACL and shoulder injury. However, it was Rich Bisaccia’s familiarity with Carlson, and his track record of working with kickers, that gave GM Brian Gutekunst the confidence to select him in the draft.
Bisaccia visited with Carlson one-on-one as part of the pre-draft process. He also worked with Daniel Carlson, Anders’ brother, while coaching in Las Vegas. When discussing Carlson, Bisaccia has mentioned his big game experience as well as his “strong mental makeup” as a person.
A week ago, Gutekunst was asked about bringing in another kicker for some added competition. And while he didn’t close the door on that completely, he also added that the young players on this roster need reps right now. In leaning heavily on Carlson, Gutekunst reiterated on Friday that the Packers knew there would be days like this.
"“No concerns right now,” said Gutekunst. “I do think it’s one of those things where it’s the National Football League and you’ve got to perform at every position. At the same time, we went into this kinda knowing that rookie kickers will have some struggles, with the thought process that there will be some patience there.”"
So my guess is that they are going to give him more time this summer to see how he can bounce back and the opportunity to showcase what he can do. As Bisaccia said during offseason programs, not only with Carlson but with other young players on the roster, the Packers are prepared to “weather the storm.”
With all of that said, it’s fair to be a little concerned, but there is still time for Carlson to turn things around.
"“That’s one of the challenges of all sports,” said LaFleur, “how do you respond when things don’t go your way? That’s something we are constantly preaching to our guys and it’s something you got to truly have that next play mentality.“I know that’s a lot of coach speak and it sounds easy, but it’s not. We are all human, we all have emotions. But guys that are able to respond and resilient, they get further in life. Sometimes you have to take your lumps, that’s just part of life, and as long as you learn and grow, you’re usually better off in the long run.”"