Packers K Anders Carlson responding well to competition in Year 2

Unlike last season, when the job was handed to rookie Anders Carlson, the Green Bay Packers are currently in the throes of a heated competition at kicker.

In 2023, the team stood pat while their sixth-round pick had a turbulent year. On the surface, Carlson enjoyed a solid regular season in which he made 27 out of 33 field goal attempts (81.8 percent). By comparison, Mason Crosby, who kicked in Green Bay for 16 seasons and is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, made 79.5 percent of his kicks as a rookie.

Unfortunately, there were some troubling moments for Carlson as he led the NFL with four missed extra points and also missed a kick in nine of the last 12 games, including the playoffs. Then, the dagger came when he missed a crucial field goal from 41 yards in the fourth quarter of a three-point loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. Despite his struggles, the team did not bring in a legitimate competitor for Carlson.

That changed this year when the Packers added former Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny and veteran Greg Joseph. Now, the practice field has turned into a battleground.

Of course, kicking in practice vs an actual game is entirely different. Testing your kicker under pressure is pivotal for reliability in games, but replicating that pressure in practice is basically impossible. However, that hasn’t stopped the Packers from trying.

During Tuesday’s OTA practice, players were allowed to distract the kickers while they attempted their last field goal of the day. A lot of them yelled, waved their arms, and some even sprayed water on them.

Podlesny and Joseph both missed their attempts from 53 yards. Carlson made his and was mobbed by teammates in celebration.

“Just make it as difficult as possible on the kickers,” Matt LaFleur said of their unique approach to raising the stakes for kickers at practice. “We want to put them in situations that are pretty uncomfortable. I would say that’s a pretty uncomfortable situation. Nowhere in ball are you going to have an entire team lined up around you, but just to try to amplify that level of pressure. It was good to see the last one go through the uprights.”

In total, Carlson was 3-for-3 on attempts from at least 50 yards on Tuesday. During last week’s practice, he was 6-for-7 on attempts ranging from 40-51 yards. So far, LaFleur has been pleased with how Carlson and all the kickers have responded to the competition.

“There’s been a lot of good moments,” said LaFleur. “Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s just the consistency day in and day out. I think all of those guys have had their own moments where they’ve kind of won the day. It’s a tight battle.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire