CSR Panthers 2013 Position Review: Kickers & Punters

USA TODAY Sports

It's that time again folks; time to look at the kickers and punters for the 2013 Carolina Panthers. Are you ready? You know you are -- let's go!

Brad Nortman is awesome.

Half of this review can be summed up with those four words. But, I figure it's probably a good idea to give some statistics to back up my analysis; otherwise y'all will start to think I'm writing this piece with an agenda (not that I would ever do that).

With that being said, here's a look at Nortman's stats from 2012:

Player Punts Yds Avg Net TB In-20 Lng Blk
B. Nortman 76 3267 43.0 36.5 7 20 63 1

Like I said before: he's awesome. I mean, just look at those numbers. He punted for over three thousand yards! If he were a quarterback, he would be on the cover of Sports Illustrated (or some other sports magazine of high regard). We're extremely lucky to have a punter who can produce like that.

Kidding aside, if the Panthers are going to do well in 2013 Nortman has to do better than he did in 2012. The stats in the chart above rank him 28th in the league in average yards per punt, and 32nd -- yes, dead last -- in the league in net average. That's simply not good enough.

However, unless Ron Rivera brings in a free agent punter at the start of training camp or Jordan Gay is the next Ray Guy, the job is Brad Nortman's again in 2013, because as of right now there's no one on the Panthers' roster who can take his job. There were two punters invited to the rookie mini-camp to try out for the team -- Pete Kontodiakos and Ryan Tydlacka -- but neither were offered a contract according to the team's official transaction list.

Whether or not it's a good idea to roll with Nortman in 2013 is yet to be seen. He was pretty bad in 2012, but he was also a rookie, so a little slack should be given. At this time I don't expect Rivera to bring a real threat to Nortman's job into training camp, so it's highly likely the punter job for the 2013 Carolina Panthers is Brad Nortman's by default.

Chance to make the roster - 100%

Chance to make it through the entire 2013 season - 85%

Now that we've gotten Nortman out of the way, let's talk about the other half of our dynamic kicking duo -- Graham Gano.

Gano was signed mid-way through the 2012 season when Rivera realized that Justin Medlock was to blame for the Panthers overtime loss to the Buccaneers in Week 11. How dare Medlock give up the game-tying and game-winning drives, right?

Most fans weren't really moved by the Gano signing. How excited can you get over a kicker anyway? Despite the fact that signing Gano was akin to reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, he actually did pretty well for the Panthers last season.

You can take a look at this production in the chart below:

Player FGM FGA 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ XPM XPA
G. Gano 9 11 0/0 3/3 3/3 2/3 1/2 20 21

Gano wasn't that bad in 2012 as you can see from the numbers above. He only missed two field goals in six games, and both of them were over 45 yards -- a 48 yarder against the Raiders and a 54 yarder against the Saints.

Of course, he did miss an extra point in his first game with the team on Monday Night Football, but we'll just skip over that and pretend that it never happened. Okay? Good.

Gano is probably going to start the 2013 season as the Panthers kicker since they didn't draft one -- even though there were several available -- and they only have one other kicker on the roster. Morgan Lineberry out of Abilene Christian in Texas is Gano's competition for the job in training camp, and unless Gano forgets how to put the ball through the uprights in Spartanburg, Lineberry will end up being just another camp body.

Chance to make the roster - 98%

Chance to make it through the entire 2013 season - 85%

That pretty much sums up the kickers and punters for the 2013 Carolina Panthers. There probably won't be any intense camp battles to speak of, but if there are you can trust that I will provide you all the details of those battles because I know just as much as you do that you would be foaming at the mouth to read them.

In the meantime, you'll have to settle for a breakdown of the kick returners and punt returners because that's all we've got left to talk about in the Special Teams department. Stay tuned for the second part of this series, where we will look at the return men and coverage units for the upcoming season.

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