By David Rogers. August 29, 2019. CHARLOTTE, NC — If Thursday night’s final preseason game means anything in the long-term, it is that Joey Slye belongs on some NFL roster.
COVER IMAGE: Rookie placekicker Joey Slye is making a case for being on an NFL roster, here with a 59-yard field goal for Carolina’s first score. All photographic images by Braxton Critcher for Blowing Rock News
After slotting a 59-yard field goal just over two minutes into the second quarter, certainly made a case for himself. While he had one kick blocked from about 48 yards earlier, the rookie’s 59-yarder was his seventh field goal during the preseason as he “filled in” for the injured veteran, Graham Gano. Three of those seven FGs: 55 yards at Chicago, 54 yards vs. Buffalo, and the 59 yards vs. Pittsburgh. Only one of the seven was under 40 yards, a 29-yard chip shot at Chicago in the third quarter of the first preseason matchup.
Whether the Panthers decide to keep Slye and put Gano on injured reserve, for the time being, is an interesting question.
Thursday’s final preseason game was also a chance for Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and his staff to evaluate the team’s depth at other positions. All three quarterbacks battling for the primary backup role behind Cam Newton saw action, with Kyle Allen getting the start.
Allen only directed the offense for one series before giving way to rookie Will Grier, who played the rest of the first half and a good chunk of the third quarter before handing the reins over to Taylor Heinicke. Each had their moments, good and bad. In mop-up duty, Heinicke had arguably the best stat line (7-of-10 passing for 89 yards and two TDs, but was sacked twice and tossed one INT for a QB rating of 97.5).
With the most time on the field, Grier was 11-of-18 for 189 yards, one TD and one INT, but sacked four times. The rookie out of West Virginia’s first play showed why he is highly regarded, a 54-yarder to 2-year professional out of Alabama, DeAndrew White. It was a slant-in from the left side that White collected about eight yards beyond the line of scrimmage, turned upfield and broke a couple of tackles before finally being brought down near the Steelers’ 26-yard line.
During his brief appearance, Allen’s highlights included a nice one-handed grab over the middle by former Louisville running back Reggie Bonnafon for a 21-yard gain on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage, as well as a 13-yard scramble two plays later. Allen finished the series and his cameo appearance with an 86.1 rating (4-of-6 passing for 41 yards, with no sacks, no TDs and no INTs).
White proved to be the top receiver on the night, catching four of six targets for 94 yards, including that 54-yarder from Grier.
The battle for the reserve running back position behind Christian McCaffrey looked to tighten between veterans and younger players. Coming into the season, 5-year veteran and Auburn alum Cameron Artis-Payne was the most likely to fill the role and may keep that position, but Bonnafon, rookies Jordan Scarlett (Florida) and Elijah Holyfield (Georgia), and third year fullback Alex Armagh (West Georgia) have each showed flashes of belonging.
Tight end Temarrick Hemingway may have done enough to prove he belongs on someone’s NFL roster, if not the Panthers’. Late in the 4th quarter, Hemingway hauled in a 21-yard TD pass from Heinicke to put the Panthers ahead, 25-16. He was targeted three times on the evening, catching all three for a total of 49 yards.
Hemingway is a third-year pro out of South Carolina State. After being drafted in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, Hemingway played in eight games for the Rams (no offensive statistics) before being placed on the team’s injured reserve list at the start of the 2017 season. He was released from L.A.’s practice squad in 2018 and brought onto Denver Bronco’s active roster late in the 2018 season. He was waived by Denver last May and immediately claimed by the Panthers.
Having evened their preseason record at 2-2 with the win over Pittsburgh, the Panthers now await the arrival of the Los Angeles Rams to Bank of America Stadium for the 2019 regular-season opener on Sunday, September 8th.