CHARLOTTE - Will the NFL's decision to move the point-after-touchdown kick back 13 yards for the 2015 season add to the legend that is Riverboat Ron?
"It might. It might," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We've got to think long and hard, and obviously the situation and circumstances will play into it.
"It will be interesting to see how it affects how we do things."
NFL owners have voted to move the snap of the extra point from the 2-yard line to the 15 next season, turning it into a 33-yard kick rather than a 20-yard one while leaving the two-point conversion at the 2.
Kickers have made 99.5 percent of PATs over the last four seasons. Last season, kickers made 90.1 percent of field goals between 30 and 39 yards.
"The bottom line is that we're trying to create more excitement around the point-after, and I get that part of it," Rivera said. "Moving it back changes things. You've got to think about the two-point conversion, and you've also got to think about the potential to create points off of them as a defense.
"From an offensive perspective, if we're going for two points, is it a risky play we're running that they could take back for two? It also adds to the value of blocking a kick. There are so many things that come to play."
Defenses will now be allowed to try to return blocked kicks or turnovers on failed two-point conversions the distance for two points of their own.
While the number of two-point conversion attempts is expected to increase some, Rivera has complete confidence in kicker Graham Gano's ability to connect consistently from 33 yards.
The shortest field goal Gano has missed since joining the Panthers midway through the 2012 season was a 35-yarder, and in that instance it was a blocked kick.
"With a longer kick, there will be a bigger emphasis on trying to block it," said Gano, who missed a PAT in his first game with Carolina but has made 93 consecutive since. "Every point matters, but it's going to matter even more now. I'm sure you'll see more coaches going for two. But as far as I'm concerned, it's just another kick. That's how I'm going to treat it."
Owners approved the changes by a vote of 30-2 with the hope of injecting a little intrigue into the PAT. Gano believes it might accomplish that goal, but he doesn't plan to be a part of any such drama.
"Thirty- to forty-yard field goals should be made, but I'm sure if you move it back, there will be guys that miss them here and there," Gano said. "I expect to make every kick, and that's not something that will change. Nothing will change mentally or form-wise."