Now that the Carolina Panthers have made their final roster cuts, one player in particular must be breathing sighs of relief.
Kickoff specialist Rhys (pronounced "Reese") Lloyd has made the Panthers' final roster.
Rhys, a second-year player, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens before the 2007 season. He made the final roster, but they waived him in late December. That's when the Panthers picked him up off the waiver wire.
Lloyd has a powerful leg. One Charlotte Observer writer once remarked during 2008 Training Camp that the impact of Lloyd's foot meeting the ball sounded different from other players.
In addition, Lloyd forced touchbacks on 6 of 24 kickoffs in the preseason, including three of five in one game. That's a 25 percent touchback percentage.
Last year veteran place kicker John Kasay handled kickoff duties. He had two touchbacks to 53 kickoffs—a four percent touchback percentage.
This significant improvement to the kickoffs will result in worse field position for opponents. This will give the Panthers defense more yardage to give before the opposition gets close enough to even kick a field goal.
It's obvious that the Panthers coaching staff took this into account when deciding whether or not to give Lloyd a valuable roster spot over a player more useful to the team.
The problem is, Lloyd is pretty darn useful.