CHARLOTTE - The Panthers made their decisions at kicker and punter in roster cuts Monday, awarding the jobs to a pair of young legs in kicker Justin Medlock and punter Brad Nortman while releasing veterans Olindo Mare and Nick Harris.
Other moves to reduce the 90-man roster to 75 players by the 4 p.m. deadline included placing cornerback Brandon Hogan on injured reserve and moving wide receiver David Gettis to the regular-season version of the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
The Panthers must make their final roster cuts to 53 players by Friday, the day after they conclude their preseason schedule at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"These were harder probably than a lot of years," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "We had to get down from 90 instead of 80 like in the past, and the other thing was that we had so much competition at spots this year – people like Eric Norwood and Nick Harris and Olindo Mare, who certainly were difficult decisions."
|G||Roger Allen||3||Missouri Western State|
|WR||Michael Avila||R||San Jose State|
|G||Will Blackwell||R||Louisiana State|
|DE||Eric Norwood||3||South Carolina|
|RB||Lyndon Rowells||R||Humboldt State|
|CB||Brandon Hogan||2||West Virginia|
Hurney said the decisions on the specialists were tough given that all four candidates had strong preseasons.
Mare and Harris have kicked for 26 NFL seasons between them, but in the end, the Panthers decided that youth would serve them well.
"It came down to the fact that we have two young kickers with very strong legs who had very good training camps and did well in the preseason," Hurney said. "It was an extremely hard decision because Nick and Olindo also did very well."
Medlock, a fifth-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007, played in the Canadian Football League the past three seasons and has attempted just two NFL field goals. He has made all three of his field goals in preseason play, including one from 49 yards and one from 48.
Nortman, the first punter ever drafted by the Panthers, has averaged 45.7 yards on six punts in the preseason. He was selected in the sixth round of the most recent NFL draft from Wisconsin.
Monday's moves mean that Hogan's anticipated second season will end before it even starts, but Gettis could still return to action this season.
Hogan, who started his rookie season of 2011 on the PUP list following left knee surgery before seeing action in the final three games, was expected to compete for significant playing time this preseason.
"Brandon came out and had two very good days of training camp, and then his knee swelled up," Hurney said. "We kept thinking he was going to be back the next week and then the next week, and it never happened. Finally, we found out last Friday that he needed surgery, so we put him on injured reserve."
Gettis is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that cost him the entire 2011 season. He had been rehabbing from a hamstring injury on the preseason version of the PUP list, which prevented him from practicing with the team.
Now the earliest he can return to the field is Week 7 of the regular season. He won't count against the roster limit until he is activated.
"This gives David several more weeks to get completely healthy," Hurney said. "He came off the ACL and then had a pretty bad hamstring injury he's been trying to get over for the last couple of months.
"I think with our situation at wide receiver and the way guys have performed, we just felt that he could use the time to get stronger and get more confidence. We'll have the option of activating him after Week 6."
Digital media coordinator David Monroe contributed to this article.