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Carolina Panthers

Mare off to smooth start


CHARLOTTE - During his three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, kicker Olindo Mare dealt with the city's notorious rainfall, the biting cold and the effects of having one end of the stadium open to the air with the other end closed.

During a decade with the Miami Dolphins, Mare dealt with a dirt infield left behind by the stadium's baseball tenant as well as unpredictable tropical winds.

There's a more subtle learning curve at his new home with the Panthers, but so far it's been smooth - on and off the field.

"There are no easy stadiums. There's always something," Mare said. "I try not to think of something being an easier place to kick because that's when it gets you."

Mare nailed his first three field goals as a Panther in his home debut Sunday, and he helped set up his first field goal with a perfectly placed kickoff. Mare got impressive hangtime on a kickoff that came down to Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb at the 2, allowing Carolina's coverage team to quickly converge and force a fumble.

Through two games, Mare has done exactly what the Panthers hoped he would when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

"He's been great," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's kicked the ball off for the most part the way we expected him to, and he's been steady in terms of field goal kicking. He's what we expected.

"He's a guy with a good strong leg, and he'll eventually contribute to a big one for us."

Mare has picked up where he left off in Seattle. He made 88 percent of his field goals with the Seahawks, the third-best percentage over the last three years among players who served as their team's primary kicker each of those three seasons. In addition, only three kickers had more than his 64 touchbacks over the past three seasons.


With kickoffs moved up 5 yards to the 35-yard line this season, he's recorded touchbacks on five of 10 kickoffs, putting him on pace for 40 this season.

"The rule is great for kickers," Mare said. "I'm sure returners hate it, but I am noticing more guys taking them out, that's for sure."

Mare's most vivid memory of Bank of America Stadium prior to this season involved a kick return against the Dolphins in a 2006 preseason game.

"This guy named DeAngelo returned a kickoff on me for a touchdown his rookie year," Mare said with a laugh, referencing running back DeAngelo Williams' 98-yard return five years ago.

Now, Mare is working on learning the intricacies of Bank of America Stadium – much like he did at his previous stops – to avoid a repeat.

"Outdoor stadiums are what they are. It just depends on the weather," he said. "It's just something you've got to get used to, and when you do, you can use it to your advantage as the home team."

Mare had another type of homefield advantage before he set foot in the home locker room for the first time. His family already lived in Mooresville, N.C., 30 minutes north of the stadium, a spot the family picked four years ago because it was halfway between his home in south Florida and his wife's in New York.

"My family is happy," Mare said. "We didn't have to move, so the kids get to stay with their friends. Plus, we'll spend the holidays in our house for the first time in four or five years.

"We've also got a good group of guys on the team, which always helps. We're happy. We know how lucky we are."

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