If there is one area of the game in which the Raiders appear pretty much set, it’s with its two specialists, each of whom ranks as one of the best in the NFL at his craft—punter A.J. Cole and kicker Daniel Carlson.
Injuries happen, though, and it behooves any organization to have potential replacements on speed dial if something were to happen to Cole or Carlson. With that in mind, the Raiders worked out a handful of accomplished veteran kickers and punters on Friday, per NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, hoping to keep their pipeline open in case of emergency.
On the list: six-year veteran punter Matt Haack, who was let go by the Cardinals despite a solid NFL resume. Also on board for a look was former Packers and Bears punter Pat O’Donnell, who has nine very good years in the league behind him.
For the kickers, it was former Jacksonville practice-squadder James McCourt, who was let go when the team made its 53-man roster cuts, and Tristan Vizcaino, who has bounced through five organizations and was most recently with the Cowboys, who cut him when completing their initial roster.
O’Donnell, Haack Are Accomplished Vets
It is somewhat of a surprise that the two punters, O’Donnell and Haack, do not have NFL jobs. O’Donnell lost out on the Packers’ primary punting role to 24-year-old XFL veteran Daniel Whelan, as Green Bay goes all-in with its youth movement (O’Donnell is 32). O’Donnell pinned 46.2% of his punts inside the 20-yard-line last year, fourth in the NFL.
Haack (who is 29), too, lost out to a younger player, 26-year-old Nolan Cooney, after Cooney’s excellent preseason showing.
Both of the kickers the Raiders looked at are fringe NFL prospects. McCourt has never kicked in the NFL and Vizcaino had had 12 attempted field goals with 11 makes. Oddly, he missed five extra points in 15 tries in his biggest NFL opportunity, with the Chargers in 2021.
The Raiders also worked out long snapper Tucker Addington, who was with the Jaguars in training camp and appeared in three games for New England last season. The Raiders signed new long snapper Jake Bobenmeyer from Denver this offseason.
Cole, Carlson Rank Among NFL’s Best
The Raiders do not have much concern about the state of their kicking game. When CBS Sports ranked kickers and punters this offseason, the site had Carlson as the No. 2 kicker in the NFL and Cole as the No. 5 punter.
Carlson, CBS pointed out, has made 90% or more of his field goals in each of the last three seasons, the only NFL kicker to do so. In all, he has made 107 out of 115 tries, for a sterling 93.0% mark. He has also gone 21 of 24 on field goals of 50-plus yards. He was finally recognized for his work last year, earning an All-Pro selection.
Cole was an All-Pro in 2021 and has been a Pro Bowl punter for the past two seasons. He led the league with 50 yards per punt in 2021, and was almost as good in 2022, at 48.9 yards per punt (fourth in the NFL). He had just one touchback all last season and a touchback percentage of 1.7%, second in the league.