Carolina Panthers training camp: 5 key battles to watch

(Photo by Michael Starghill/XFL via Getty Images) P.J. Walker
(Photo by Michael Starghill/XFL via Getty Images) P.J. Walker /
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Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Graham Gano /

Carolina Panthers camp battle No. 3: Joey Slye vs Graham Gano (K)

The battle for No. 1 kicker is going to be a fascinating one. Graham Gano is set to make a return to full health after missing the 2019 campaign. But the performances of Joey Slye last season will have given the Carolina Panthers a tremendous amount of encouragement.

This has left Gano’s fate with the franchise in doubt. The Panthers are committed to the player financially with little salary-cap relief if they decide to release him. So he is going to get a chance to prove his worth in the coming weeks.

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Gano has been a consistent kicker throughout his career. He has a field goal percentage of 85.5 during his seven-year spell in Carolina so far. And this also includes a 95 percent extra point conversion rate and 16/25 of kicks made from 50 yards or more.

This is a strong resume that will be hard to look away from. However, much will depend on how Gano returns following a serious leg injury.

There is little doubt that Slye is going to give him plenty to think about at camp. The former Virginia Tech star made a substantial impression during his rookie season on his way to a 78.1 percent field goal percentage and 8/11 from 50-plus yards.

His extra point conversion rate was 88.6 percent. It is clear that Slye will have benefitted considerably from that experience. And he comes with more upside than Gano long-term.

Whether this will be enough for the player to oust the veteran from the No. 1 role permanently is up for debate. And it has the potential to have huge ramifications for the Panthers whichever way they choose to go.