Channel 9 talks with Panthers’ new punter about his path to the team and giving back

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers haven’t been very good offensively this season, but the other two phases of the game have played very well.

There’s been a lot of talk about the team’s defense but not so much about the special teams -- that is, until now.

Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown asked Hekker how he got here after playing quarterback in high school.

“I was putting together my highlight tape with my head coach and one of our other coaches said, ‘Hey you should throw some punts at the end of your highlight tape.’ Yeah, sure why not -- I’m not sure if they’ll make it that far,” Johnny Hekker said. “Then I got a call back from the Oregon State special teams coach. He said we would like for you to come down here walk on and punt.”

Now, Hekker has been averaging 48.1 yards per punt this season, and his longest punt reached 67 yards, according to NFL statistics.

“I read you have an entire arsenal of punts. There are certainly several for different situations, can you walk us through perhaps what you’re willing to share, some of the tools in the tool bag for Johnny Hekker?” DaShawn asked.

“It’s just adapting in the league,” Hekker said. “Early in the league, I hit a majority of my punts to the right, so I would get good direction on it over to the right sideline. I’d get returners on the right sideline. [I] adapted the ball where I’d drop the nose down, pull it back left away from the returner, hit it over their head or hit on the ground and roll. [I] worked with an Australian punter over at Oregon State, Nick Porubsky, he showed me this punch where you hold it sideways, hit through the inside of it and it curves outside. I would’ve never tried those things in games if it weren’t for coordinators telling me, ‘Hey do that in a game,’ or ‘Try that.’”

>> In the video at the top of the page, Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown sits down with new punter Johnny Hekker to talk technique and giving back to the community.

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