Len Pasquarelli

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Friday, September 20
Kasay could miss season

By Len Pasquarelli

Carolina Panthers coach John Fox acknowledged Friday kicker John Kasay will not play on Sunday, and that the 12th-year veteran could require surgery to repair a "sports hernia," which would mean a long recovery period.

John Kasay
Kasay went to Tampa for a second opinion on a groin injury he sustained in a practice session on Wednesday, and a specialist there concurred that he's suffering from the hernia. Surgery has been recommended, and if Kasay undergoes the operation, he could miss the rest of the season.

The Panthers will elevate Jon Hilbert, signed to the practice squad earlier this week, to the active roster for Sunday's game at Minnesota. He will sign a one-year, $300,000 contract, prorated over the number of games in which he appears.

The groin injury is the latest misfortune for Kasay, 32, who suffered a severe left knee injury toward the end of the '99 season and then re-injured the same knee in the 2000 training camp, sidelining him for the entire year. Kasay limped through much of camp this summer with a groin injury.

Hilbert, 27, kicked in eight games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2001, replacing the injured Tim Seder. The former Louisville standout converted on 11 of 16 field goal attempts and all 12 extra point tries, for a total of 45 points. That made him the second-highest scorer on the team.

He was in camp this season with Chicago but was released when the Bears opted to stay with incumbent Paul Edinger.

The Panthers auditioned a number of placement specialists as insurance against the possibility Kasay wouldn't be able to kick Sunday. Included in the group were Seder and Jaret Holmes.

Hilbert has a very strong leg and, in addition to being a solid place kicker, is excellent on kickoffs as well.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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