A couple of additional players are hoping to jump into the Carolina Panthers’ punting competition – including one with local ties.
Former Florida State and Olympic High standout Cason Beatty will participate in the Panthers’ two-day rookie minicamp this week on a tryout basis, his agent confirmed Wednesday. Beatty was at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rookie camp last week but was not offered a contract.
Beatty and former LSU punter Jamie Keehn will be among the 50 or so players attending the rookie camp Friday and Saturday in Charlotte. Keehn, an Australian who will be 27 before the season starts, also will be in camp on a tryout contract.
The Panthers are looking for a replacement for Brad Nortman, who signed a four-year, $8.8 million contract with Jacksonville in March.
They currently have two punters on the roster – former CFL Special Teams Player of the Year Swayze Waters and Michael Palardy, who punted for the University of Tennessee.
Beatty, whose family lives in Steele Creek, was Florida State’s starting punter for four years. He improved from a 38.3-yard average as a freshman to a 45.2-yard average last season, when he led the ACC and ranked 12th nationally in gross punting average.
Beatty, 21, threw for more than 800 yards as Olympic’s quarterback during his junior season before finding his niche as a punter. He was ranked among the top five punters nationally by several recruiting services.
Beatty’s older brother, Lucas, was a quarterback at Gardner-Webb. Beatty’s agent turned down an interview request from the Observer, saying Beatty wanted to keep a low profile before trying out for his hometown team.
Keehn was an accomplished javelin thrower and rower before arriving at LSU in 2012, when Panthers assistant special teams coach Thomas McGaughey was on the Tigers’ staff.
He averaged 42.6 yards per punt over his LSU career, finishing No. 5 on the school’s all-time list in gross average. Of his 184 punts, he had 66 downed inside the 20-yard line and 39 that went 50 yards or longer.