Green Bay Packers rookie kicker Anders Carlson has been battling inconsistency all of training camp. However, he continues to bounce back, and that quality is one of the key reasons why the Packers drafted him.
The Anders Carlson-experience has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs since training camp started. Prior to Family Night, he was just 16-for-27 overall, including days at practice where he was 5-for-5 and also 1-for-6. However, coming off a week in which he made just 5 of his 12 attempts, we saw Carlson bounce back at Family Night, where he went 8-for-9, with his lone miss coming on a high snap and poor hold.
Fast forward to the Packers’ first preseason game against Cincinnati, and Carlson began 3-for-3 on extra point attempts and made his lone field goal attempt as well before missing his final two extra point attempts wide right. Then during Wednesday’s joint practice with New England, Carlson began 3-for-3 before missing two field goal attempts in the two-minute drills.
However, as he has done throughout training camp, Carlson is able to bounce back, making both extra point attempts along with a 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half. That ability to shake off the missed opportunities is a big reason why the Packers drafted Carlson, and it’s something he’s continued to display throughout the summer.
"“Those positions that are all alone,” said Rich Bisaccia on Friday via Packers.com, “the pitcher in baseball, the quarterback in football, the kicker in football, the return guy, to some degree, they’re out there by themselves. The mental makeup of most players, but certainly those all-alone players, it’s important to them. How to come back from a bad play, the cycle of the play, the cycle of the kick.“I think how you come back for that is important to be your best regardless of the circumstance, that’s a sign of mental toughness, to a degree. And again, I’ll go back to his mental makeup, has a lot to do with why we drafted him, why we like him, and why we feel like the future is going to be bright for him.”"
GM Brian Gutekunst has said on multiple occasions that the team knew patience would be required in relying on a rookie kicker, which is why we aren’t going to see the team bring in another kicker to compete with Carlson any time soon. For one, having two kickers in practice takes valuable and limited reps away from Carlson. In most practices, Carlson gets just six field goal opportunities.
Gutekunst also knows how important it is to give a young kicker time to work through any issues they are having because what Carlson has experienced in training camp up to this point has been pretty typical for a rookie. Bisaccia also stressed the importance of patience, referencing on Friday Daniel Carlson, Martin Grammatica, Dan Bailey, Nate Keading, and Nic Novak as all kickers that he has worked with in the past that went through initial ups and downs.
"“For me,” said Gutekunst on Friday, “in my time here, and not only here in Green Bay but around the league, there isn’t always patience when there needs to be. Certainly, Mason had some times, multiple times, when he was here where he had some bad spots, struggles, and I always thought Ted gave him a long leash, and he came out of it. I think it’s important for young players to give them that leash to get there, but at some point, when that stuff becomes real, it becomes different.”"
As we’ve seen, Carlson certainly doesn’t lack power. His 52-yard make against New England might have been good from 65. However, the key for him right now is harnessing that power and being more consistent. There are going to be more highs and lows from Carlson, it’s just the nature of being a first-year player at his position, and the Packers are prepared to weather the storm that comes with that.
But what Carlson has shown so far, in addition to his big leg, is that he can bounce back after a poor performance, which can’t be overstated as an important quality to have as a kicker.
"“I think he’s got a lot of talent and he’s done a lot of good things since he’s got here,” added Gutekunst. “You guys have seen his leg strength and his power. Really like the way the ball elevates off of his foot. But you’ve got to find a way to get to a more consistent level.”"