But those would have been miracles if he hit them. When he had a chance to win a game at Minnesota with a 54-yarder, Slye hooked it badly. Rhule would later describe it as the kind of kick Slye simply had to convert, saying: "that's got to be a routine kick at the end of the game."
Slye didn't have another chance to hit such a home run the rest of the year, and the culmination of all the bad stuff down the stretch for the Panthers (who lost four of their last five and nine of their last 11 games) left plenty of jobs in doubt.
The Panthers signed a few kickers for offseason "competition," but none of them lasted through the end of rookie minicamp.
Rhule said for now, the plan was to stick with Slye, as long as he kept showing progress.
"If he continues to do as well as we think he's going to, great," Rhule said. "If not, we know we can get someone off the street.
"I think Joey's done a great job of really growing as a kicker, from the mental performance mindset perspective, from the end of last year until now. He's taken that really seriously. That to me is the key. Usually, if you give me two swings at a golf ball, usually the second one I'll hit pretty good. But you don't get two swings when you're kicking a field goal.
"So your mind has to be right, and I think he's working really hard — and he's such a young player — to make sure his mind is always right."
Some of that work you can see. Some of it you can't. Slye's sessions with Dr. Perry have been a small part of an offseason devoted to making the change from having potential to delivering on it.
Slye's description of his program reveals an incredible level of detail. In discussing his research on gaining a physical edge, he dropped a mention of "cortisol levels," and how the body's stress hormone can affect performance. That's where his nutritional plan comes into play, as he's learning how to keep things steady.
"Obviously, you can't be worrying about food when you're kicking," he said. "To put it simplistically, it's about putting all the pieces together ahead of time, so you can see the results."