A report says that the Panthers are starting to get “uneasy” about veteran kicker Graham Gano’s availability for the start of the regular season.
Gano has been unable to kick during training camp or the preseason due to a leg injury. “Well, we’ll see. Hopefully what’ll happen is, in the next day or two as he continues going through his process of working back to health, we’ll know whether he’s going to kick or not,” coach Ron Rivera said Monday. “If he’s able to, he most certainly will. That’s for sure.”
Through camp, Rivera has remained optimistic the veteran would be ready for the regular season and repeatedly backed Gano, but the coach is finally voicing concern. With Gano remaining out, rookie kicker Joey Slye has been perfect through the preseason. The Virginia Tech product nailed 6 of 6 field goal attempts — including from 55 and 54 yards — and both of his extra-point tries.
The last time Gano was challenged in Panthers camp was 2017, when Harrison Butker showed out during the preseason. Carolina, however, stuck with the (more expensive) veteran and cut Butker, who landed in Kansas City and has been a big-legged stalwart for the Chiefs. Gano responded to that challenge with a Pro Bowl season. Now, however, he’s coming off a disappointing 2018 campaign in which he dealt with injury and made just 87.5 of his field-goal attempts with three missed PATs.
The Panthers would save nothing on the salary cap by cutting Gano, who has been their kicker for the past seven seasons. But it seems possible that his job could be in jeopardy if he does not show he is ready for action very soon.