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December 13, 2011

Panthers sign Kunalic to compete with struggling Mare

When the Panthers released veteran kicker John Kasay in July, they said they did so because they didn't want to keep two kickers on the roster.

But with Tuesday's signing of free agent Adi Kunalic, the Panthers now have two kickers on the roster again.

With Olindo Mare struggling, the Panthers brought back Kunalic, the rookie from Nebraska who was with the team in training camp. To make room for Kunalic on the roster, they placed linebacker Jason Phillips (strained calf) on injured reserve.

Phillips becomes the 15th player on IR this season, a team record.

It's unclear who will handle the kicking duties this week at Houston, although the Panthers are expected to keep Mare on the roster. Mare, 38, signed a four-year, $12 million deal with $4 million guaranteed.

Mare is second in the NFL with 44 touchbacks, but is 30th among 35 kickers with in field goal accuracy at 76 percent (19 of 25).

Mare has missed two crucial field goals, both of which were under 40 yards and in front of the home crowd. He missed a 31-yarder Oct. 30 as time expired in a 24-21 loss to Minnesota, and was wide left again last week on a 36-yarder that would have given the Panthers the lead with 5:12 remaining in a game they lost 31-23 to Atlanta.

Kunalic was brought to Spartanburg as a “camp leg” to keep Mare from taking all the kicks. But the coaches were impressed with Kunalic's leg strength.

He made a 62-yard field goal on the final day of camp during a team-building exercise.

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on December 13, 2011 at 05:37 PM | Permalink


love it

Posted by: ryan o | Dec 13, 2011 5:51:24 PM

Throw him in, can't be any worse than OlindNO Mare.

Posted by: YeahRight | Dec 13, 2011 5:51:24 PM

this guy kicks a 62 yarder in practice & Hurney cuts Kasey & signs an old choker....PLEASE FIRE MARTY HURNEY, he is destroying our team

Posted by: bull123 | Dec 13, 2011 5:55:57 PM

Glad they got rid of Kasay to save that extra roster spot. Now they have to use that extra roster spot on a KICKER!!

Posted by: Kevin | Dec 13, 2011 5:58:02 PM

As I recall, this kid was so good at Nebraska, he was expected to be drafted. I say let the kid kick off,extra points and field goals for the next three weeks and if he performs well,cut Mare, eat $1mil. (you would have paid him $3mil for 2011 anyway)and put this bad decision behind us!

Posted by: SC ken | Dec 13, 2011 6:21:25 PM

All good decisions don't work out, I think this was the case here. We needed the roster spot. Mare didn't perform. Give the kid a chance!

Posted by: yonse2 | Dec 13, 2011 6:35:41 PM

Compete for what? Field Goal kicker, or Kicker period? here it goes again... trying to be cheap, and costing yourself more than just going ahead and doing what you got to do...

Spend the dog gone money for what you need!!!!

Posted by: 2ndgenerationbulldog | Dec 13, 2011 6:55:24 PM

DOn't think this is about being cheap. We have a kicker with a 3 million a year contract and just signed another. Assuming Mare gets cut...and we all hope so, it will end up costing 4 million guaranteed. That will not be a cheap decision. If made, as it should, it will be very expensive...and the right decision.

Posted by: YeahRight | Dec 13, 2011 7:00:39 PM

Do all you people realize that this guy didn't handle extra points or field goals for Nebraska? In his four years of college, he only kicked one extra point and one field goal. He was known for his great kick off skills. And that's all.

Posted by: Chad | Dec 13, 2011 7:00:51 PM

You know what else is funny? The only speak of the critical field goals he missed, but he's missed more field goals and has had blocked field goals. They all are crucial. They change the dynamics of the game, of what the other team will or won't do. Its about strategy. And we're playing with all pawns. Not all pawns... but you get what I'm saying. Man, I feel like crying and ringing someone's neck when those dog gone panthers lose...

Posted by: 2ndgenerationbulldog | Dec 13, 2011 7:04:42 PM

Seem like panthers need to bring in more players at every position to help this struggling team period!

Posted by: BONEHEAD TOM!!! | Dec 13, 2011 7:15:25 PM

ok people for those of you who dont understand why this is happening its simply because of mare style of kick its almost like a pooch punt boot type of kick instead of an NFL kick its a from soccor style up and over kick, theres no flow through motion instead of up with an angle its a up and over the d-line kick which is why it can be blocked go back and look at all his kicks this year they all can almost be blocked by the guy coming from the right side.

Posted by: fortydogg1 | Dec 13, 2011 7:16:01 PM

Kasay was released solely at the pleasure of Jerry Richardson...who got his hind end handed to him at the end of the lock out.

Kasay was the Panthers' player rep, and dimwit Richardson had to have his pound of flesh.

The roster spot thing was 100% BS.

Posted by: Scott Bryan | Dec 13, 2011 7:19:46 PM

kasay had a flow through motion with about a foot and a half before he kicks while mare gets right up on the ball resulting in the ball having to be kicked upward, straight upward with a strong potential to be blocked if say a peppers type lineman gets penetration at all in the middle....(see the chicage game for proof of this).

Posted by: fortydogg1 | Dec 13, 2011 7:19:46 PM

I never liked the logic in bringing in a 38 year old kicker to a rebuilding team anyways. if you get rid of kasay, we should have been looking for the next kasay out of the 22-25 year olds instead of looking for a stop-gap for a few years.

what was the best case scenario here? that mare kicks well while the team sucks and then when the team becomes a contender he's too old and we have to replace him?

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 13, 2011 7:24:09 PM

I would not cut him if he had them blocked that would be the lines fault for not winning the line, but neither of these were blocked and it cost us 2 wins possibly and can you imagine with the weak wild card teams we may have made the playoffs. Think of all the games that we lost by a touchdown or less and the moral boost that vickings game would have gotten us. Special Teams have hurt us all year including A. Edwards returning punts. I say use him as a wide reciever or cut him. He is not helping us with 5 yd avg, on returns.

Posted by: Tom | Dec 13, 2011 7:26:44 PM

I hear you fortydogg... i feel everything you're saying... but to what end? We could be at least 6-7 now instead of 4-9... if not better than that. i think the whole roster excuse is bs too. I'm giving them a pass this season... but next year, i expect playoffs!!!

Posted by: 2ndgenerationbulldog | Dec 13, 2011 7:29:23 PM

at least there not turning a blind eye towards Mare, they are bringing in someone else, as a Panthers fam I find that refreshing

Posted by: Say What | Dec 13, 2011 8:05:07 PM

@ Chad - Sure he didn't handle FG's or XP's at Nebraska, not because he wasn't good, but because Alex Henery (drafted in the 4th round by the eagles) was busy setting an NCAA record of most acurate kicker in history by hitting 89.5% of his fg's through his 4 year career kicking for the huskers.

Posted by: gunnin4sb | Dec 13, 2011 8:29:28 PM

The Panthers need to pay close attention to Marshall University's defensive back Vinny Curry. He was awarded the Conference USA defensive layer of the year award. He would make a great addition to the Carolina Panthers Defense.


Ed Mays

Posted by: Edward Mays | Dec 13, 2011 8:41:23 PM

Can the new kicker stop Cam Newton from turning the ball over, and having EACH of the turnovers turn into points?...because that is what's happened in EACH and EVERY loss....except the Titans.

Posted by: john holmes | Dec 13, 2011 8:41:36 PM

If kicker was our biggest problem, I would be encouraged. I say let this kid have a shot and see what he can do. Mare has made a career of bouncing through the league missing kicks.

Posted by: Jamey | Dec 13, 2011 8:57:42 PM

They need to cut Mare & just let this kid kick the rest of the year. If he stinks then get another one next year until you find someone who can kick.

Posted by: Smiley | Dec 13, 2011 9:05:30 PM

Cut Night-Mare and Hurney, Clausen, and anybody that ain't worth a crap. This team will be a wrecking ball next year and I see the playoffs every year for a long time. GO CATS

Posted by: Pantherman | Dec 13, 2011 9:13:56 PM

Great to see Adi back with the Panthers. He was a great kicker in college and would have been the kicker on any other team except for Nebraska. As he was listed behind Alex Henery the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Big mistake to release him earlier. Adi will be do great!

Posted by: nchuskerz | Dec 13, 2011 9:25:07 PM

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