It's not often you see an NFL team hold a positional tryout less than 90 minutes before their game, but that's exactly what the Carolina Panthers were forced to do on Sunday in Buffalo after kicker Zane Gonzalez went down with an injury during warmups.
The injury was serious enough that Gonzalez (quad) was ruled out for the game and once it became clear that he wouldn't be playing, Carolina had to quickly find someone to take his place. Unfortunately for the Panthers though, they don't have another kicker on the roster, which is why they basically ended up holding a tryout for the position during pregame warmups.
According to multiple reports, the Panthers were pretty much giving anyone and everyone a chance to win the position, including wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, running back Reggie Bonnafon and linebacker Frankie Luvu.
The most obvious candidate to take Gonzalez's place would be punter Lachlan Edwards, but the Australian doesn't have any placekicking experience, which is why the Panthers tried out several position players for the job.
Here's what those tryouts looked like:
According to the Panthers official website, backup quarterback P.J. Walker was a kicker in high school, so there's a chance they could try him out in the role, but Walker also saw some playing time last week as a QB, so the team may be hesitant to let him play another position. In the end, it will likely be Edwards who gets the job, but that's not definite. No matter who ends up being the kicker for the Panthers on Sunday, one thing is almost certainly guaranteed, it's going to be an adventure.
Although the Panthers can do their best to avoid any situation where they might need a kicker, they still need to find someone for the job and that's because they'll still need someone to kick off.
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Even if the Panthers decided to go for two after every touchdown and even if they end up going for it on every fourth down, they'll still need to kick off at some point against the Bills, which is the big reason they had to find a kicker before the start of the game. Gonzalez is usually their kickoff guy and as the Panthers found out just before the start of the game, replacing your kickoff guy isn't as easy as it sounds.
On Gonzalez's end, the Panthers are losing the one guy who's possibly been their most reliable player this year. The kicker ranks seventh in the NFL in accuracy with a 90.9% conversion rate on field goals and going into Week 15, he had made 17 straight kicks dating back to Week 5.
If you weren't planning on watching the Panthers-Bills game on Sunday, you might want to check in every so often just to see how crazy things have gotten with Carolina's kicking situation.