Sorry, Carolina Panthers fans. But your favorite thiccker (thicc + kicker . . . get it?) may be on the outs.
Sunday was not a perfect opening game for current Panthers kicker Ryan Santoso. And as head coach Matt Rhule stated on Monday, he’ll still have to compete for his job with the weight of that outing on his shoulders.
“They were competing last week,” Rhule said of Santoso and practice squad kicker Dominik Eberle. “We’ve kinda gone back and forth just, in terms of practice, having guys kick. So we’ll continue to, really at every position—you know we say that, but it’s true at most positions—we’ll continue to have a competition to go out there and kick.”
The pressure on Santoso is particularly urgent for these next few days. The Panthers can recoup the conditional seventh-round draft pick they sent to the New York Giants for him if he’s off the active roster by Week 2’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
This isn’t baseball, but with general manager Scott Fitterer’s fetish for picks, Santoso may already be up to two strikes.
His first strike came when Rhule opted against a potential 52-yarder for Santoso early in Sunday’s contest and, instead, punted. That may indicate a low trust level.
Santoso’s second strike was a more tangible one, as he missed an extra point try following the 57-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Darnold to wideout Robby Anderson.
Strike three can come courtesy of Eberle this week in practice. If so, that’ll make for another three—three different kickers in the past three regular season games.
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