The Carolina Panthers still have two kickers on their roster, but they’re going with their veteran in Week 1 despite a couple of preseason misses after a shaky 2016.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Graham Gano will handle the kicking duties Sunday against San Francisco in Santa Clara, Calif. Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney both said earlier in the week they expected Gano to kick against the 49ers.
Rookie Harrison Butker, the seventh-round pick from Georgia Tech, remains on the 53-man roster.
Gano was 3-of-5 on field goals during the preseason. His misses were from 50 and 51 yards, both of which clanged off an upright.
Gano also hit the post on a 50-yarder last year that would have lifted the Panthers to a last-second victory against Denver in a Super Bowl rematch in Week 1. Gano went on to miss eight field goals – his most since joining the Panthers in 2012 – and had surgery on his plant foot after the season.
“Probably the biggest thing more so than anything else is he’s a veteran,” Rivera said Friday. “He’s had a lot of success and we’re counting on him.”