The Panthers oft-maligned special teams unit made strides on its coverage team last season.
Meanwhile, their return game got a huge shot in the arm Thursday.
The Panthers picked up one of the leagues most dangerous returners when Ted Ginn Jr. agreed to terms on a 1-year contract, according to two league sources.
ESPNs Adam Schefter was the first to report the agreement.
Ginn, the former first-round pick of Miami in 2007, immediately improves a unit that auditioned a handful of returners last season with little success. Ginn, who spent the past three seasons with San Francisco, is one of 10 players in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game.
Ginn, 27, who was an unrestricted free agent, also is among 12 players to return a kickoff and punt for touchdowns in the same game.
Ginn has the inside track to become the Panthers third receiver. Louis Murphy, the No. 3 wideout in 2012, recently signed with the Giants.
The interesting thing about Ted is he gives us some depth at wide receiver who can challenge for playing time opportunity, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said this week at the league meetings in Phoenix. But also hes got special teams value, which is big.
Ginn has six career touchdown returns three on punts and three on kickoffs.
Ginn ranked 11th in the league in 2012 with an average of 10.2 yards per punt return. He did not have enough kick returns to qualify for the league rankings in that category.
As their last hope in the final seconds of the Super Bowl, the 49ers put Ginn deep to field a free kick, prompting Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to walk up and down the sideline telling teammates to come off the bench and tackle Ginn if he broke free.
Hes an explosive guy coming off the line of scrimmage, too, Rivera said. So theres some huge pluses for us as far as hoping to be able to bring a guy like that into the fold.
The Panthers used Armanti Edwards, Joe Adams and Armond Smith as their kick returners last season after Kealoha Pilares went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in November.
Adams, a fourth-round pick last year, lost his spot as the punt returner after he fumbled twice in a Week 3 loss to the Giants.
The acquisition of Ginn could spell the end of Edwards tenure in Charlotte. The former Appalachian State quarterback is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and has made virtually no impact while working as a returner/receiver.
On both of Edwards longest plays with the Panthers an 82-yard catch at Washington last season and a 69-yard punt return in Week 17 at New Orleans he was caught short of the goal line.
Pilares showed promise as a kick returner in 2011, setting a team record with a 101-yard kick return for a touchdown. But Pilares does not have the track record that Ginn does.
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