Catanzaro needs to show he can perform well on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, Carolina Panthers fans will see a familiar face at kicker, but it won’t be Graham Gano. He will be missing Sunday’s game against the Browns with a left knee injury. Instead, the Panthers will look to veteran kicker Chandler Catanzaro to provide reinforcement at the position.
Let me just start by saying, you never like to see a player hurt. Especially someone like Gano who has been the consummate professional over the years, this is a truly disheartening injury. The kicker had not missed a game since the 2012 season, proving to be an Ironman in every sense of the word. Fortunately for the Panthers, they were able to bring a veteran like Catanzaro into the fold. If nothing else, he has a solid resume to prove he is worthy of sticking around even after Gano recovers.
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Catanzaro made 11-15 field goals and 23-27 extra points in nine games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. He was released by Tampa Bay after missing two field goals in the team’s 16-3 defeat to the Washington Redskins. Although that may not make fans warm and fuzzy, he is the best option on a moment’s notice. Panther fans will get to see him for the first time on Monday Night Football when the Panthers take on the New Orleans Saints December 17.
Catanzaro will have to have a big game on Sunday. This is a must-win a contest for Carolina if they even want to think about making the playoffs. They really dug themselves a hole by losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Who knows, this may be a chance for the kicker to audition for the starting job. Especially if Gano’s injury lasts longer than expected, the team will need to rely on Catanzaro moving forward.
If nothing else, this creates an unexpected battle at kicker. What if Catanzaro comes in and has a great game? Should the Panthers take him out and replace him with Gano once the latter returns from injury? Playing devil’s advocate, should the Panthers ride with Catanzaro the rest of the way? It certainly creates an interesting situation. Although Gano has been absolutely money for the Panthers over the past couple of years, his struggles as of late are the reason I am even debating this topic.
It all starts on Sunday. As the Carolina Panthers look to save their season and keep their (very slim) playoff hopes alive, Catanzaro may play a big role in Sunday’s contest. He has quite literally been thrust into action. Now, we will have to see if he can deliver.