Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano missed the entirety of the 2019 season due to a leg injury.
As he recovers for the 2020 season, he now finds himself headed toward a competition with last season’s replacement Joey Slye for the team’s kicking duties.
Gano first injured his leg late in the 2018 season. He fractured the femur in his plant leg during a practice and was placed on injured reserve. As he tried to return for last year, he never was able to get himself healthy enough to be a viable option. Gano once again went on injured reserve and Slye took over for the entirety of last season.
Gano would eventually have surgery to address the ongoing issues.
According to Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn said the updates he received on Gano’s rehabilitation have been positive.
“I get updates from our trainer. He’s been able to go into the facility with the ruling of the injured players be(ing) able to go in, so he’s been back in there and he’s been kicking well,” Blackburn said. “I’ve been getting updates from Kevin (King, the team’s head athletic trainer), and everything’s been going well. Rehab’s been going really, really well and I guess he kicked today.”
Slye converted 78 percent (25 of 32) of his field goal tries last season and was 31 of 35 on extra points during his season replacing Gano. In Gano’s last full season in 2017, he was named to the Pro Bowl after converting a league-best 96.7 percent (29 of 30) attempts and converting 34 of 37 extra point tries. he had converted 14 of 16 attempts in 2018 before his injury ended his season after 12 games.
“The (kicking) battle as far as that’s concerned, I mean, in reality, we’re in a very, very blessed situation, because we got two very capable kickers with really talented legs,” Blackburn said. “There’s plenty of teams around the NFL right now that would be very excited to have the competition that we have going.”