The Las Vegas Raiders are looking for ways to improve their kicking game. In order to do so, they may bring in a player from Japan to stabilize the position by the name of Toshiki Sato.Â
The 2019 season wasn’t kicker Daniel Carlson’s finest, far from it. After nailing 94.1% his field goals in 2018, he only connected a mediocre 73.1% last season. Although he’s ready to move on from last year’s poor performance, the Raiders will make him earn his roster spot.
In order to compete with Carlson, the Raiders signed undrafted free agent Dominik Eberle. The Utah State product is one of three kickers in NCAA history to make nail three 50+ yard field goals in one game. That should make things interesting this upcoming training camp. Nevertheless, the team might not stop there and will have another player join the kicking quarrel.
Toshiki Sato: From the X-League to the US
According to Kyodo news, Toshiko Sato is drawing interest from the Raiders and the Cowboys. The Japanese kicker currently plays in the X-League, a semi professional football league in Japan.
Sato thinks he has better odds of joining the Raiders. Regarding his NFL aspirations, the kicker said, “the Cowboys might be difficult since they have three kickers and one has a big contract, but the Raiders only have two. I think there’s a chance I could get an invite if those two don’t do well at the upcoming camp.”
On the other hand, if the kicker fails to get an invitation from any NFL teams, he’s willing to try out in the CFL.
“I was also in touch with a Canadian team and got a pretty good feeling. I’d like to play in Canada and produce good results and take that as a step. If I play in Canada I’ll be seen by NFL scouts, and I’ll get treated better at tryouts. There’s no downside.”
Sato points out were he to play another position, his chances of playing in the NFL would be zero. He’s aware of it and said, “it’s a contact sport, so there’s a disadvantage in terms of body size and speed.” At the same time, he thinks he has an advantage.
“It’s crucial for a kicker to be clutch considering how likely they can decide the outcome of the game. It’s the only position where you can fight with your mental strength and not just your physical power. Being a kicker eliminates as much as possible the elements that prevent Japanese people from becoming NFL players.”
Sato is looking forward for an opportunity but knows there’s nothing to do other than wait.
“It was a blessing that I was able to try out in March (in spite of the outbreak). Spring camps weren’t held, but players are always being replaced at summer and preseason camps. I want to get ready for when I’m called.”
No native Japanese-born has ever played a game in the NFL. It’s not a certainty Sato will do. However, if he gets an invitation from either the Raiders or the Cowboys, he will be a step closer from being the first one.
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Top Photo: Kyodo News