Daniel Carlson

Watch Raiders' Josh Jacobs score game-winning touchdown vs. Chargers

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AP

Watch Raiders' Josh Jacobs score game-winning touchdown vs. Chargers

We're just over halfway through the NFL regular season, but Josh Jacobs might have already locked up Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Raiders rookie running back had the highlight play of his young career Thursday night, scoring an 18-yard touchdown with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter to give Oakland a 26-24 lead over the Chargers.

Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson missed the resulting extra point, but Oakland's defense forced the Chargers to turn the ball over on downs on their final possession of the game, sealing the victory.

[RELATED: Watch 56-yard pick-six by Raiders' Harris against Chargers]

With the win, the Raiders improved to 5-4. Jacobs finished the game with 14 carries for 61 yards and three receptions for another 30. His seven touchdowns on the season lead all rookies in the NFL (not including QBs).

Mike Zimmer has second-guessed cutting now-Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson

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USATSI

Mike Zimmer has second-guessed cutting now-Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson

ALAMEDA – The Minnesota Vikings took the first kicker in last year’s NFL draft. They had pick of the litter and chose Daniel Carlson.

The Auburn product was awesome in college, with all the power and accuracy and mental fortitude to be an excellent NFL kicker.

Top talent, however, doesn’t guarantee perfection. Carlson was not that with the Vikings, especially in a Week 2 tie with Green Bay where he missed three field goals.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t pleased, and he cut the fifth-round pick right away.

He had this to say when asked about the swift ax.

“Did you see the game?” Zimmer said last year. He called the decision “pretty easy.”

In hindsight, it may have been made in haste.

Carlson took some time off after that cut to work on his technique in private, and emerged a better kicker for the experience. The Raiders benefitted from that, acquiring a specialist who looks like a long-term solution.

Carlson set a Raiders franchise record for single-season field goal accuracy in 2018, converting 94 percent of his attempts.

It’s possible that Carlson turned things around only after a tough exit from Minnesota, but letting Carlson go has weighed some on Zimmer’s mind.

He said so in a Wednesday conference call leading up to Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I mean, do I have regrets?” Zimmer said. “I like our kicker who we have now, but did I second guess it? Sure. He’s done great there, and I think he’s a very, very talented kid. I wish him well, just not this week. But no, I’m happy for him and in retrospect, I guess, yeah, I’ve thought about it many times.”

[RELATED: Why Raiders' Joyner is encouraged by team's mindset]

That thought may have crossed Zimmer’s mind more last season, even with veteran Dan Bailey in purple. He hit just 75 percent of his field goals last season, while Carlson was near perfect.

Raiders Daniel Carlson wants to build on Raiders success, not replicate it

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USATSI

Raiders Daniel Carlson wants to build on Raiders success, not replicate it

The Minnesota Vikings took the first kicker in last year’s NFL draft, but that didn’t stop them from cutting Daniel Carlson at the first sign of trouble. The Auburn alum was off the roster following a rough go against Green Bay, suddenly on the street despite great power, accuracy and pedigree.

That transaction raised Rich Bisaccia’s eyebrow. The Raiders special teams coach considered a top talent, someone who could solve his in-season kicker issues with Giorgio Tavecchio cut in camp and Eddy Piñeiro and Mike Nugent on injured reserve. Bisaccia had an in with Carlson after helping recruit him to Auburn. That, the Raiders thought, would separate them from the competition when bringing him in for a workout.

Carlson still said no.

This wasn’t about the Raiders. He declined offers from everybody, as a matter of fact, choosing to work out kinks away from massive crowds and quick-to-judge head coaches with nothing invested in him.

“My agent and I obviously talked about it a good bit,” Carlson said. “We just felt like at that time I could take a break, work on some things that I wanted to work on. Once you get into the season, you’re just getting ready for Sunday. You’re getting ready for Sunday, so it was nice to be able to step back, be able to work on a couple little things and then be able to… I knew an opportunity would come. Obviously, I didn’t know where from, but I just wanted to make sure when that came I was ready and would be ready for the rest of the season.”

He made some tweaks and was eventually able to double back to the Raiders when he was ready. Patience proved a virtue for player and team.

Carlson was awesome after joining the Raiders, with a franchise-record 94.1-percent conversion rate. He hit 16 of 17 field goals in silver and black, including a game-winner as time expired on one of their four wins.

Carlson wants to match that effort in 2019 and for years to come as the Raiders kicker. He won’t compete for a gig this season but is still pushing for improvement and consistency through near-constant self-evaluation even now, when sailing on the calm.

“I think he’s working on getting a master’s in himself,” Bisaccia said. “I think he knows faster than anybody else what’s good about what he does and when it’s not the hit that he’s expecting to make. I think he can self-correct quickly and just our professional opinions we thought he was really a good player coming out. He was certainly a draft-able kicker and then when he became available we couldn’t get him for the first workout, he wanted to go work on a few things on his own and when he was ready for a workout we got him in. He did a tremendous job and now he’s ours.”

Carlson doesn’t subscribe to the ain’t-broke-down-fix-it model. He wants to build on last season’s success over simply replicating it. That more than anything else remains his drive heading toward the 2019 season.

“I wouldn’t say you ever maintain,” Carlson said. “I think you’re always getting worse or better. I think yes, I learned some things that worked last year and I want to keep those things going. But at the same time, I always want to improve. I’ve been working really hard this offseason. Obviously, I took a little break after the season ended and kind of got back to it. I want to continue to build off of what I had last year and the things that were going well. Still continuing to improve every day. I think for the most part I’ve been able to do that.”

Carlson’s able to get nit-picky these days, even looking at attempts that earned three points. He grades each one, and despite the pass-fail nature of his profession, he doesn’t view it as a zero-sum game. He also understands every kick won’t be perfect but needs even the subpar efforts to fly straight and true.

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Carlson is always working on an ironclad mental approach and consistent form that can be more challenging for someone standing 6-foot-5.

“Being taller you have to be very, very exact,” Carlson said. “Continuing to be able to do that nine out of 10 times, but now hopefully I’m going to be able to do it 99 out of 100 times. Just trying to get better each and every day.”