Panthers cut veteran kicker Mare, punter Harris

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers are going young at kicker.

Carolina released 16-year NFL veteran

kicker Olindo Mare on Monday just one year after giving him a four-year,

$12 million contract. They also parted ways with punter Nick Harris, a

12-year NFL veteran who was signed as a free agent earlier this

offseason.

Justin Medlock, a journeyman kicker who last played for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, appears to have won the kicking job.

The Panthers went with rookie sixth-round draft pick Brad Nortman as their new punter.

“Both of those decisions at kicker were

very difficult,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “In both

situations we felt like we had two young kickers with strong legs who

had very good training camps. So did Olindo and Nick, but we made a

decision to go with the younger guys based on their performances.”

The Panthers also placed cornerback

Brandon Hogan on injured reserve for the second straight year after he

underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Friday.

Wide receiver David Gettis, who has

missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury, was placed on the

physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury. Gettis was

hoping to battle for the No. 3 receiver spot after missing all of last

season with a torn ACL.

Gettis can be activated to the 53-man roster after the sixth week of the season.

The team also waived wide receivers

Darvin Adams, Rico Wallace, Brenton Bersin and Michael Avila, running

backs Josh Vaughan and Lyndon Rowells, tight end Greg Smith, guards Will

Blackwell and Roger Allen, and defensive end Eric Norwood, a former

fourth-round draft pick from South Carolina.

Mare had the unenviable task of

replacing veteran kicker John Kasay, who was cut last season after

spending all 16 years with the team.

Mare connected on 22 of 28 on field

goals attempts last year but had two key misses in losses to Atlanta and

Minnesota. With a chance to send the game into overtime he pushed a

31-yard field goal wide left in the closing seconds resulting in a 24-21

loss to the Vikings. A few weeks later he missed a 36-yarder against

the Falcons in another late-game situation.

The Panthers still must pay Mare $3 million, the remaining portion of his signing bonus.

However, Medlock is a much cheaper

alternative in terms of base salary. He’s set to make the league minimum

of $390,000. Mare’s base salary would have been $2.1 million this year.

Mare’s departure doesn’t come as a surprise.

The kicking battle had been one of the

most competitive in training camp and Medlock appeared to have edged

ahead because of his ability to make longer field goals. Mare struggled

on kicks around 50 yards out, while Medlock had plenty of leg to get it

there.

The big question for the Panthers was if Medlock could handle the pressure of kicking in a game.

He was perfect during the preseason.

Medlock was drafted in the fifth round

in 2007 by the Kansas City Chiefs and was 1 of 2 on his field goal

attempts before being waived. He hasn’t attempted a field goal in the

league since. However, he’s performed well in the CFL.

He earned a tryout with the Panthers

after connecting on 49 of 55 field goals last season for the Tiger-Cats,

including a 57-yarder.

“That was one of the big things that

attracted us to Justin is he had a strong leg,” Hurney said. “He was a

highly touted kicker coming out of UCLA. But sometimes it takes kickers

awhile to gain some experience. He went to Canada and really did a nice

job there and we decided to bring him in.”

Hurney said running back Jonathan

Stewart will be listed as “day-to-day” after injuring his ankle during

Sunday night’s preseason game against the New York Jets. X-rays on the

ankle were negative but it’s unlikely Stewart will play in Thursday’s

preseason finale at Pittsburgh.