As we inch closer to the start of the regular season, the Carolina Panthers continue to deal with an injury to a key player. We're not talking about Cam Newton this time.
"Well, we'll see. Hopefully what'll happen is, in the next day or two as he continues going through his process of working back to health, we'll know whether he's going to kick or not," coach Ron Rivera said Monday, via the Charlotte Observer. "If he's able to, he most certainly will. That's for sure."
Through camp, Rivera has remained optimistic the veteran would be ready for the regular season and repeatedly backed Gano, but the coach is finally voicing concern.
"It is uneasy, to be honest with you," Rivera said. "Because again, you want him to be able to kick to make sure everything's fine. We'll know hopefully in the next day or two."
With Gano remaining out, rookie kicker Joey Slye has been perfect through the preseason. The Virginia Tech product nailed 6 of 6 field goal attempts -- including from 55 and 54 yards -- and both of his extra-point tries.
The last time Gano was challenged in Panthers camp was 2017, when Harrison Butker showed out during the preseason. Carolina, however, stuck with the (more expensive) veteran and cut Butker, who landed in Kansas City and has been a big-legged stalwart for the Chiefs. Gano responded to that challenge with a Pro Bowl season. Now, however, he's coming off a disappointing 2018 campaign in which he dealt with injury and made just 87.5 percent of his field-goal attempts with three missed PATs.
The Panthers would save nothing on the salary cap by cutting Gano, per Over The Cap, but it's fair to wonder whether the injury and the previous experience with Butker will heavily influence Carolina's kicker decision when cut-down day comes.