Carolina Panthers fans and Charlotte media have had a lot of fun with Swayze Waters’ name since he signed during the offseason. But the former CFL standout looks like he’ll go to training camp as the starting punter.
Waters averaged 47.7 yards per punt in 2014, when he was the CFL’s special teams player of the year. He missed most of last season with a hip flexor injury.
Three punters were drafted last weekend, all in the sixth and seventh rounds. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said he didn’t think there were any punters worth drafting late.
But Gettleman did not rule out bringing in a veteran later to compete with Waters and former University of Tennessee punter Michael Palardy.
“A lot of times teams draft punters and then ... they’re looking to replace the veteran guy, save a few bucks,” Gettleman said. “Maybe there will be an opportunity there with Swayze and (Michael) Palardy, so we’ll see.”
With that in mind, keep an eye on Broncos punter Britton Colquitt, who is set to make $3.25 million this year and will battle seventh-rounder Riley Cooper for the starting job.
One veteran punter is already on the market after San Diego cut Mike Scifres last weekend to make room for sixth-rounder Drew Kaser. Scifres, 35, averaged 45.2 yards per punt with a net of 38.6 in 13 seasons with the Chargers.
▪ The Panthers rookies will be in Charlotte this week for a two-day minicamp, which begins Friday. Like a lot of folks I’m eager to get a look at the three drafted corners, particularly second-round pick James Bradberry.
You can find lots of tape on third-rounder Daryl Worley from West Virginia or Zack Sanchez (fifth round, Oklahoma). But tracking down Southern Conference video online isn’t as easy.
It’s tough not to root for small-school guys. But Bradberry, a 6-1, 211-pounder from Samford, looks like he would have succeeded wherever, given what I’ve seen and heard.
Samford has had only seven players drafted in its history, but interestingly four have been corners. One of them was Cortland Finnegan, who came out of retirement last year to join the Panthers during their Super Bowl run.
▪ Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has had plenty of company in the training room while recovering from February surgery on his torn labrum. The Observer previously reported defensive ends Mario Addison and Ryan Delaire also had undergone shoulder surgeries.
But at the Wells Fargo Tournament this week at Quail Hollow, Kuechly revealed wide receiver Philly Brown and tight end Scott Simonson also had shoulder procedures. A team official confirmed the surgeries.
Brown, who missed two games in November with a shoulder injury, is expected to play more slot this year with Jerricho Cotchery gone and Kelvin Benjamin back from ACL surgery.