The Oakland Raiders have experienced specialist woes all season especially in the kicking department. Heading into Week 8 the Raiders are already on their fourth kicker. After the departure of 17-year veteran Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland has had problems finding a replacement.
In three games, rookie Matt McCrane missed four field goals. That led to Oakland brass deciding to move on from McCrane and going with fellow rookie Daniel Carlson, who was released by the Vikings earlier this year.
The mental side is a huge aspect of kicking so going with Carlson who has struggled already this season with missing field goals is an interesting decision for the Raiders. There were other options of veteran kickers out there that could have been a better route.
On the opposite hand, the ceiling for Carlson is still high as a rookie in spite of his previous hiccup in Minnesota. Standing at 6-foot-5, Carlson has a big leg to attempt longer field goals and the ability for more touchbacks on kickoffs. The home game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday will show Raiders fans if Carlson has been able to put his early-season struggles behind him.
Going deeper into the problems on special teams for the Raiders, the rest of the field goal unit has to adjust as well. With its fourth kicker, the long snapper and holder have to get in sync with Carlson’s preferences and tendencies. Practice for this unit has been grueling going through all of its kicker changes.
Week 8 will be telling not only for the entire Raiders team but also Carlson. Going against a Colts team that has quietly put up 189 points on offense this year will be a challenge. However, where Indy could be vulnerable is its young lackluster defense and special teams that can play a factor in this game.
If Carlson struggles it would not be it out of the realm of possibilities that the silver and black move on to the fifth option at kicker. Looking toward the long-term run of the Raiders, the coaching staff may have to continue to find an answer in the kicking game into the offseason.