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Panthers May Consider Other Options on Kickoff Return

Carolina needs to find a reliable kick returner ahead of Sunday's game.

With Andre Roberts (knee) on injured reserve and expected to miss two months, the Panthers are searching for answers in the return game. 

Chuba Hubbard filled in as the kick returner for Sunday's game in New York and fumbled the opening kickoff, leading to a Graham Gano field goal. Hubbard fumbled another kickoff later on in the game but was ruled down before the ball popped loose. 

When asked if the coaching staff would explore other options in the return game, Rhule hesitated to give a definite answer.

"I think that's all up for debate. I haven't met with Coach Tabor yet. Chuba [Hubbard] understands he can't put the ball on the ground twice like he did. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that we have guys out there protecting the football at a high level. We'll see what comes up as we get to Wednesday, Thursday."

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Shi Smith returned punts in the game and could be considered on kickoff returns as well considering that's where he has the most experience on special teams. However, one other option could be fellow wide receiver Laviska Shenault, who has been inactive for the first two games following the trade with Jacksonville. 

"I think he's getting closer by the day," said Rhule. "I just met with him one on one. He's someone I want to get on the field. Hopefully, it'll be this week. I think he can really help us. He just needs to acclimated to everything that we do. Hopefully, that'll be soon."

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