Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ punting competition heating up

Carolina Panthers punter Michael Palardy, shown here Saturday in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans, is averaging 48.0 yards per kick after two preseason exhibitions.
Carolina Panthers punter Michael Palardy, shown here Saturday in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans, is averaging 48.0 yards per kick after two preseason exhibitions. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

While Michael Palardy booted two punts during the Panthers’ first exhibition Saturday, veteran punter Andy Lee’s only action came while holding for placements.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that was not by design.

“Unfortunately we only had two punts the other day and Mike got them both,” Rivera said Monday. “Andy unfortunately didn’t get (any).”

As a result, Rivera said Lee will handle the first couple of punts Thursday at Jacksonville as the coaches continue to evaluate what has been one of the most interesting position battles this preseason.

Palardy was signed last season after Lee tore his hamstring. The former Tennessee punter averaged 42.5 yards per kick over the final seven games.

But he’s been even better in the exhibitions, with a 48.0-yard average. Lee, in his 14th season, averaged 36.0 yards in the first exhibition but had a career mark of 46.3.

“We’re going to start off with Andy (against the Jaguars) to make sure Andy gets a couple early,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to evaluate it. Both guys are kicking the ball very well for us right now in training camp.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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