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Position preview: Special teams

Posted Jul 22, 2013

When we last saw the Carolina Panthers' special teams units in action, Armanti Edwards was bursting through a hole on his way to a 69-yard punt return and Graham Gano was booting a 42-yard field goal to salt away a season-ending victory at New Orleans.

There's been plenty of work put in since the units were last in the spotlight, and there's more work to come at training camp in hopes of helping special teams pick up where they left off in 2012.

"The kickers and the long snapper had a pretty good spring, and we have some healthy competition," special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers said. "Overall, I think the specialists have put in some quality work, and I am excited to see how they will do in training camp."

Rodgers was elevated from assistant special teams coach midway through last season, and the Panthers improved from 31st to 14h in punt return average and from 18th to 10th in punt coverage under his watch. This season, he'll have veteran coach Bruce DeHaven assisting him.

KICKERS

Graham Gano
Took over placekicking duties for final six games of season. … Converted 9-of-11 field goals - missing from 54 and 48 yards – and 20-of-21 extra points. … Sent 32 of his 35 kickoffs into the end zone, with 20 touchbacks. … Made four field goals of 50 or more yards for the Washington Redskins in 2012. … Converted three overtime game-winners for Redskins in 2011.

Morgan Lineberry
Undrafted rookie ranks third in Abilene Christian history with 50 field goals. … Connected on a 56-yard field goal as a freshman.

PUNTERS

Brad Nortman
Averaged 45.5 yards per punt over final eight games after averaging 40.7 yards over first eight games. … Produced at least one punt of more than 50 yards in six of the final eight games. … Selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft from Wisconsin, making him the first punter drafted in Panthers history.

Jordan Gay
Undrafted rookie from Division III Centre College was three-time Southern Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Year. … Uncorked a 73-yard punt as a junior on his way to a 42.7-yard career average.

LONG SNAPPER

J.J. Jansen
Has handled snapping duties for every game last four seasons since the Panthers acquired him in a trade from the Green Bay Packers in 2009. … Has delivered snaps for about 550 punts, field goals and extra points with just one noteworthy error – an errant punt snap in the 2010 season opener.


This concludes a position-by-position look at the 90-man roster heading into training camp, a Panthers.com series that also included quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen, tight ends, wide receivers, defensive tackles, defensive ends, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.