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Notebook: Panthers add a kicker to compete with Joey Slye


CHARLOTTE — The Panthers still have faith in Joey Slye.

But after he gave them reason to doubt, they're going to look at alternatives.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer was asked Tuesday about Slye's job security and status as the only kicker on the roster, after he missed a 37-yard field goal last week against the Ravens.

"We're confident in him, but we're going to look at other kickers as well," Fitterer said simply.

With teams making cuts Tuesday, there are immediate names to look at, but they've considered other options all offseason. They had kickers come in as tryout players during the offseason, but no one stuck out to them as a better option than Slye.

The team signed German kicker Dominik Eberle Tuesday, waiving safety LaDarius Wiley to create the roster spot. Eberle played at Utah State, and spent some time in Raiders camp.

Slye was 28-of-30 on field goals inside 50 yards last year, but 1-of-6 from 50 and beyond. And when he missed a 43-yard extra point and a 63-yard field goal in Indianapolis in the preseason opener, it started people wondering how long Slye would exist as the only kicker on the roster.

"It's like everything else – you have to produce – and so far, Joey has not produced at the level we need him to," Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said after the Ravens game. "I think he'd be the first guy to say that, so we to find a way to get over that hump with him."

— Linebacker Denzel Perryman was absent Tuesday, as he deals with another injury.

Rhule said Perryman was recovered from the hip flexor problem that plagued him most of camp, when he was stepped on by a teammate in practice Tuesday.

Rhule called it a "freak deal" and said Perryman was still part of the team's plan.

"We signed Denzel for a reason," Rhule said. "We know he's a good player. Injuries are injuries. As we've told guys, you can't control what happens; we're concerned with how you react to it. As long as you're working hard to get back, as long as you're taking notes, Denzel and I are on the same page with that."

Giovanni Ricci

— Tight end Giovanni Ricci is a fullback now, changing his number from 87 to 40.

The Panthers don't have a pure fullback on the roster, and Rhule said this gives Ricci a chance to prove himself beyond his solid play on special teams.

"I did that just to change the way the offensive staff looks at him," Rhule said of Ricci's switch. "He's done a good job so far. He's playing well on special teams. And if you play well on special teams, you have to find a role for guys.

"We like our tight end room, and we've been searching for a fullback; we'll continue to look at other guys, but Gio has a chance to help us."

Backup linebacker Clay Johnston was also wearing 8 in practice, but that was more about game-planning for the Steelers, to get offensive players used to looking for Melvin Ingram.

View photos from Tuesday's practice as the Panthers prepare for Friday's game against Pittsburgh.

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