It’s Joey Slye time in Carolina.
On Friday afternoon, about 24 hours before the team has to trim its roster from 90 players to 53, the Carolina Panthers announced they placed veteran kicker Graham Gano on injured reserve (IR). Because the team placed Gano on IR before Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline for roster cuts, he will not be eligible to return during the 2019 season.
Gano missed the final four games of the 2018 season with a knee injury in his plant leg. He has yet to kick this preseason, and when speaking to reporters after Thursday’s preseason finale, did not give a timeline for when he would resume kicking.
“Both Graham and the team were optimistic throughout this process that his leg would improve enough to allow him to kick,” general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Graham still had pain in his plant leg each time he tried to resume kicking. These are tough decisions, and we discussed all options, but ultimately we decided to place Graham on injured reserve today.”
The move means that Carolina will enter the 2019 season with Joey Slye — nicknamed “swole kicker” by his teammates — as the team’s lone kicker. Slye has never kicked in an NFL regular season game, but he did go 7-for-8 in the preseason this year with three makes of over 50 yards.
On Thursday against the Steelers, he had one kick blocked and nailed another from 59 yards.
Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday night that it would be “very tough” to leave Slye off the Panthers’ roster.