Panthers go without a kicker after injury, removing the field goal option

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Everybody who ever wondered what football would be like if they got rid of kickers could look to Carolina Sunday.

Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez injured his right quad in warmups prior to Carolina's game against Buffalo after slipping on the turf. That forced the Panthers to hold impromptu kicker tryouts just minutes before kickoff, and ... it did not go well.

Basically, the Panthers held an impromptu kicker job fair, and according to local media on the scene, multiple Panthers took a run at a new gig. Among those trying out: wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, linebacker Frankie Luvu, and running back Reggie Bonafon, as well as quarterback PJ Walker and punter Lachlan Edwards.

When the kicker gets injured, the punter can often handle kickoffs, but the punter can't necessarily handle field goals, because the punter is often the holder ... and finding a new holder isn't an easy task, either. Edwards generally handles the holding duties, and was spotted doing drop kicks prior to the game.

It didn't take long for the Panthers to realize just how much they need a kicker. Cam Newton guided Carolina down to the Buffalo 24, but the drive stalled out. On fourth-and-9, instead of kicking what would have been a 41-yard kick, Newton had to go for it ... and failed to convert.

Carolina is a 14-point underdog, so the lack of a kicker may well be moot. But it's still a challenge the already beleaguered Panthers didn't need.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19: Kicker Zane Gonzalez #5 of the Carolina Panthers injures his knee during warm ups prior to the ganme against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19: Kicker Zane Gonzalez #5 of the Carolina Panthers injures his knee during warm ups prior to the ganme against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer on Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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