Will Dave Canales Insert a Position Player to Kick on Kickoffs?

The new kickoff rule has coaches thinking outside of the box. Canales may not have the personnel to do so, though.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Beginning this season, the NFL will have a completely new look on kickoffs.

Gone are the days where the kickoff team comes barrelling down the field from the opposite 35-yard line. Now, they'll line up at the 40-yard line on the same end of the field where the ball is being kicked to, just 20 yards away from the "landing zone" which is where the ball must be placed.

This new rule is encouraging kick returns and ultimately penalizes the kickoff team for booting the ball through the back of the end zone. Touchbacks will bring the ball out to the 30-yard line, a five-yard bump from the previous kickoff rule.

There's a lot of new strategy that coaches are going to have to work through, but the most intriguing part of it is whether or not to have your kicker be the kickoff man.

Because of the new alignment, there's a better opportunity to break big returns and once a returner gets past the initial pack of defenders, the only thing in between he and the end zone is the kicker. Some teams are toying with the idea of putting a position player in to kick the ball, so that they still have a chance to make a tackle if a returner finds a seam and is off to the races.

Carolina Panthers head coach Dave Canales was asked about his thoughts on putting a position player back to kick earlier this week.

"Until we can find someone who could really control the ball with his foot...I don't know if we have that player right now. So we're just focusing on Harrison (Mevis) getting out there to place it where he needs to."

The Panthers not only have to figure out what they want to do on kickoffs, but for field goals as well.

Veteran Eddy Pineiro has still not arrived in Charlotte, giving way for undrafted free agent Harrison Mevis to take all of the reps and perhaps win the job. Pineiro is entering the final year of his contract and with a new special teams coordinator on staff, the Panthers and Pineiro could eventually decide to part ways.

The Panthers will hold a three-day mandatory minicamp from Monday to Wednesday. If Pineiro does not show, he will be fined unless he has an excused absence.


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