Mike Zimmer wished former Viking and current Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson success for every game in which he kicks.
Except the next one.
“He’s done well,” the Vikings coach said of the 2018 fifth-round draft pick who he cut after two games last year. “I’m glad he’s done well. I hope he doesn’t do well this week. I wish him success in the future. He’s a good kid. He’s an athletic, very talented kid. Just sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
Zimmer released Carlson the morning after he missed all three attempts in a 29-29 tie at Green Bay. Two of the misses came in overtime, including a 35-yarder as time expired in a 29-29 tie.
Since then, Carlson has made 18 of 19 field-goal attempts — two of two this year — and all 22 point-after attempts for a Raiders team that’s 1-1 this year heading into Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
From the podium Wednesday, Zimmer sidestepped a question on whether he thinks there’s less pressure for Carlson on a team that’s not billed as a Super Bowl contender. But in an interview with the Star Tribune this summer, Zimmer opened up when asked if he had any regrets about releasing Carlson.
“Maybe the pressure of being on a team that supposedly is going to the Super Bowl wasn’t the same as it was for him out there [in Oakland] last year,” Zimmer said. “So I don’t know. In hindsight, 20-20, yeah, I probably should have kept him. But we did what we felt was right at that time. And he had missed some in the preseason and all that. So, we just felt like we can’t lose this season because of the kicking game.”
Hughes says he’s ready
Zimmer said he’s seen enough of Mike Hughes in practice to play the much-needed slot corner on game day.
Ditto, says Hughes, who hasn’t played since tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee in Week 6 of his rookie season last year.
Both mentioned Hughes’ availability Sunday is in the hands of the team’s medical staff.
“I’m sure they’re going to do everything in my best interests,” Hughes said. “I feel I’m ready. I trust [the knee] 100 percent.”
Hughes said the team will have him play with a knee brace in his first game back because, “I haven’t had any contact yet.
“After that, we’ll figure out what we want to do,” he added. “It doesn’t limit me. I still feel like I can move pretty well. I’ve been playing good on receivers, trying to stay on top. I feel like I still have my speed from before I got hurt.”
Hughes anticipates an “emotional” moment when he does finally see live action. He’ll no doubt be remembering all the little goals achieved on the long road to recovery.
“Those first six weeks, I couldn’t walk,” he said. “You never really think of how many things you take for granted.”
Hughes was a full participant in practice Wednesday. In other injury news, left guard Pat Elflein (knee) returned to practice, while linebacker Ben Gedeon (groin) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (elbow) remained sidelined. All three missed Sunday’s game. Linebacker Anthony Barr (groin), safety Jayron Kearse (hip), defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee), linebacker Kentrell Brothers (wrist) and Elflein were limited in practice.
Everson at ‘100 percent’
A year ago this week, defensive end Everson Griffen began a five-week absence from the team as he dealt with mental health issues. Asked how far Griffen has bounced back since then, Zimmer said, “One hundred percent,” adding that Griffen had so many standout plays in Sunday’s game at Green Bay that Zimmer showed the clips during his team meeting Wednesday morning.
“He’s been a good leader, very, very hard worker,” Zimmer said. “Very much a team-oriented player. He had some great effort plays last week.”
Diggs to be ‘strapped up’
Receiver Stefon Diggs said he understood and accepted Zimmer’s “coaching point” about keeping his helmet on no matter how frustrated he gets in the future.
Frustrated by two earlier pass interference penalties, Diggs was penalized 15 yards for removing his helmet after he caught a 45-yard touchdown pass in Sunday’s loss. The PAT was moved back to 48 yards and Dan Bailey’s attempt was blocked.
“I was definitely frustrated,” Diggs said. “I’m a very passionate player. I wear my sleeves on my emotion and I try to use it to my advantage. But things happen. But I’m fully accountable, fully responsible. And moving forward, I’ll be strapped up.”
Asked if he’s been fined by the league, Diggs said, “It ain’t in my locker, but it’s on its way. Wanna split it?”