Panthers put kicker Gano on injured reserve, not eligible for 2019 season

Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 07: Kicker Graham Gano #9 celebrates with Michael Palardy #5 and J.J. Jansen #44 of the Carolina Panthers after his game-wining 63-yard field goal against the New York Giants during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 33-31. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — Carolina Panthers veteran kicker Graham Gano will be placed on injured reserve with a left leg injury.

Per NFL rules, Gano will not be eligible to return during the 2019 season after not being included on the team’s 53-man roster.

Gano, 32, has been dealing with an injury since last season in his plant leg that caused him to miss the final four games of the 2018 season. Gano re-injured that leg during the 2019 preseason.

“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. “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 Panthers will likely elevate Joey Slye to the starting kicker role. Slye has shown that he is more than capable of taking over after nailing 7-of-8 field goals in the preseason, including a 59-yarder against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. Slye’s lone miss was a blocked kick.

“It’s super exciting,” Gano said when asked about Slye’s success after the preseason finale. “We’ve known from Day One here he’s got a super strong leg. I get fired up on the sideline watching him make kicks. I remember being young and wanting those opportunities. It’s cool to see him take advantage of it.”

A Pro Bowler in 2017, Gano remains one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, having made 43-of-46 field goals over the past two seasons. He’s been a Panther since 2012.

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