Undrafted rookie turns up heat on Carolina Panthers veteran at OTAs

Could this undrafted free agent make the 53-man roster?
Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Everyone is getting a clean slate with the Carolina Panthers in 2024. The new regime implemented wholesale changes to the scheme and personnel in pursuit of being more competitive. It's a constant evaluation, but the increased competition for places is evident as Dave Canales looks to get things trending upward quickly.

Undrafted free agents start from the bottom. The pressure to make an early impression is evident. Even then, it might not be enough to make practice squads or 53-man rosters around the league.

For one Panthers rookie, there seems to be some growing momentum at the best possible time. This has been aided by the conspicuous absence of a prominent veteran who might be on the outside looking in as a result.

When the Panthers brought in Harrison Mevis, it raised the stakes for Eddy Pineiro in no uncertain terms. The veteran kicker went through another inconsistent campaign in 2023 and is heading into the final year of his deal. If he thought there would be a free pass to the starting kicking position under the new coaching staff, it was a grave error in judgment.

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Instead of coming in and competing hard for his spot, Pineiro's opted to skip the voluntary stage of offseason workouts so far. When probed about the issue, Canales said he hadn't spoken to the former Florida star. He's just thankful Mevis is around to assist based on comments via Pro Football Talk.

"I have not talked to him. We’re just focusing on the guys we have. I’m glad we have Harrison Mevis here so we can actually go through our field goal, field goal block period. So, just really focusing on the guys that are here. And I’m sure Eddy, he’s got a plan for this whole thing."

Dave Canales via Pro Football Talk

Mevis became a cult figure during his time in Missouri thanks to his larger-than-life build and personality. He's also a consistent kicker with phenomenal leg strength. It's not hard to see why the Panthers wanted to bring him on board and examine his potential in greater detail.

The rookie's arrival also laid down the gauntlet to Pineiro. Canales recently spoke about the fighting qualities in his players with additional heat from new arrivals looking to take their reps. The same cannot be said of the kicker, although it's also worth remembering that this is a voluntary portion of the offseason program.

According to those in attendance, Mevis is off to a great start. He's made his attempts count and seems to be settling in well. Again, if Pineiro thought that he'd fluff his lines and be cast aside at the first sign of failure, he was sorely mistaken.

This is one of the most fascinating position battles to watch when Pineiro returns to the set-up this offseason. He'll have to show up for Carolina's mandatory minicamp, but hitting the ground running is paramount with so much positive momentum building around Mevis.

The Panthers have no emotional attachment to Pineiro or anyone else who played under the previous staff. Everyone should have raised urgency to right some wrongs after how things unfolded last season. Not turning up when the going gets tough isn't exactly the best first impression from the kicker's perspective.

As for Mevis? He might just have the upper hand. There is a long way to go, but it's hard to look at his start to life in Charlotte and think otherwise.

Pineiro must rise to the challenge. Anything less could see him seeking alternative employment.