The Green Bay Packers have a young team this season. That youth, especially on offense, has led to inconsistency. Players like Jayden Reed, Luke Musgrave, Christian Watson, and Jordan Love have showed flashes of excellence but also made costly mistakes. But the team has had one rookie exceed expectations through the first five games of the season and be very consistent. That is Packers kicker Anders Carlson.
The Immediate Pressure on Packers Kicker Anders Carlson
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst selected Carlson in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The expectation was that Carlson would take over the kicking position from veteran Mason Crosby, who the team did not re-sign.
Crosby had been the Packers kicker since 2007 and is the Packers all-time leading scorer. He was popular among teammates and fans.
The rookie out of Auburn had some big shoes to fill and felt the pressure of replacing an all-time great Packers kicker as soon as he arrived in Green Bay.
Anders Carlson Struggled in Camp and the Preseason
While scouts knew Carlson had a strong leg, they also knew he struggled with his consistency. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury in 2021 and he kicked with a brace last season as he recovered from the injury. His accuracy was reduced as a result.
In training camp and throughout the preseason, Carlson continued to show both his strong leg and his inconsistent accuracy.
In training camp, he missed many field goal attempts and extra points but also made some long kicks. He further proved his leg strength when he hit a 57-yard field goal in one preseason game but also missed several extra points.
The Packers did not challenge Carlson in training camp, and he was the only kicker on the roster. He was good enough to win the job and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia expressed confidence in Carlson. Still, many fans expected the rookie to continue to falter once the regular season got under way.
Packers Kicker Anders Carlson Has Been a Pleasant Surprise
Since the regular season started and the games started to count, Carlson has been perfect. He has made all seven field goals he attempted and all 10 extra points.
He continued to show his strong leg, making a 52-yard field goal in the Packers Week 1 win over the Chicago Bears. His ability to make long kicks made Packers fans angry when the team opted not to allow him to try a 56-yard attempt a week later in the team’s loss to the Falcons after the team took a delay of game penalty.
He came through in the clutch in Week 3, capping off the Packers comeback from a 17-0 deficit in the fourth quarter against the Saints when he kicked the game-winning extra point with less than three minutes left in the game.
The Carlson Brothers Have a Friendly Competition
Carlson’s older brother, Daniel, is also a kicker in the NFL. Daniel was drafted by the Vikings back in 2018. He struggled early and was cut by Minnesota after missing several critical kicks in a Week 2 game at Lambeau Field.
The Raiders signed him. He gained confidence and became more consistent under the watch of Bisaccia who was then the team’s special teams coordinator. Last season, he was named All Pro after hitting 91.9 percent of his field goals and scoring 137 points.
In Week 5, the Packers faced the Raiders, and the two Carlson brothers went head-to-head. Anders won the kicking battle, but Daniel won the war. Anders made both of his field goal attempts and kicked an extra point. Daniel missed two field goals while making one.
The Raiders managed to win the game, however, 17-13, which left Daniel happier at game’s end than his younger brother.
The Future Looks Promising
Carlson still has a way to go before he can become an elite NFL kicker. But in a season that has been filled with inconsistent play, his reliability has been a definite plus. His strong leg and ability to kick under pressure means he has all the tools to succeed and be the next long-term kicker of the Green Bay Packers.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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