Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly thinks a couple of his teammates should have been on the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster with him – “the guys that kick the ball for us this year.”
Kuechly was referring to punter Michael Palardy and kicker Graham Gano, the latter of whom will be joining Kuechly in Orlando, Florida, for the all-star game after all.
Though he hasn’t heard officially, Gano is expected to replace Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, who was placed on injured reserve with a lingering back injury this week and is out for the season.
Gano, who leads the NFL in field goal accuracy, is the first alternate behind Zuerlein and is excited for his first Pro Bowl appearance.
“It’s cool. I haven’t been. It’s something everybody dreams of,” Gano said Thursday. “It’s a neat honor, but everybody here has one goal, and that’s to win a Super Bowl.”
A Super Bowl berth would mean Kuechly and Gano would skip the Pro Bowl, which Kuechly missed last season because of concussion issues.
Kuechly, who earned his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl nod, thinks Palardy also is deserving. Palardy, seventh in the league in net punting with a 42.3-yard average, is a second alternate in the NFC.
“Those two guys deserve a lot of credit, especially Mike for what he’s been able to do to help our defense out,” Kuechly said of the team’s specialists.
“Because anytime you’ve got a good punter like that, it makes our job easy. I don’t know how many times (opponents) have started drives inside the 10, inside the 20. That’s a good feeling when you look back there and they’re close to the goal line.”