CHARLOTTE – When Ron Rivera spoke with Joey Slye following Sunday’s heartbreaking 34-31 loss at New Orleans, the kicker wasn’t caught off guard by anything he heard from the head coach.
“It’s one of those things that if it continues, then we’ve got to make some changes, got to make some moves,” Rivera told the media Wednesday. “That’s just the way it is.”
The Panthers did make a move, adding kicker Greg Joseph to the practice squad after Slye missed two PATs and 28-yard field goal that would have given Carolina a late lead in the Superdome. All of the missed kicks were wide right.
“If you are a professional in this league, you have to make kicks like that,” Slye said Wednesday. “They (the Panthers) have to prep themselves in case they have to make a move. It just is what it is.”
Slye said he’s received a ton of support from family, friends, teammates and others in the kicking fraternity. Graham Gano, who has been on IR all season, shared some words. Veteran 49ers kicker Robbie Gould called. So too did Shayne Graham, a former NFL kicker who is now coaching in the college ranks.
“They were like, ‘Just get back on the horse,’” Slye said.
Slye, who has made of 19-of-26 field goal attempts and 22-of-26 PATs this season, spent Monday closely examining and processing the mechanics of each miss from the loss. He knows he needs to slow down his process and avoid planting too deep.
Then, some of the frustration gave way to perspective in the face of his first real NFL adversity.
“I’m really, really hard on myself. I take what I do really seriously,” Slye said. “Looking at it from a different vantage point – I’ve gone through worse situations in my life. In the grand scheme of things, my brother passed away in front of me. I mean, perspective. I still get to play the sport I love. I’m still grateful to be here and have an opportunity.”
This week is about proving he can pick himself up and confidently knock the ball through the uprights.
He can’t get the misses back, painful as they are. It’s all about the next kick.
“There are really only two options when something like that happens,” Slye said. “You go into a hole and you can’t get out of it. You’ll find your way out the door. Or you can bounce back. I can prove to the organization that I’m a good enough kicker to bounce back from something like this.”