CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Punter Andy Lee has appeared in just one game with the Carolina Panthers, and he already owns the top line of two columns in the team’s record book.
In the Panthers’ season opener, Lee’s four punts sliced through the thin air of Denver to average 63.0 yards. He blasted a 76-yard punt that Broncos’ return man Jordan Norwood flagged down with an over-the-shoulder catch before it even had a chance to hit the ground and roll any further. Both were single-game team records.
“Andy did have a big game,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s a solid football player and does a great job for us. He flipped the field for us in a big situation and really helped us. If you’re playing good defense and your punter can flip the field, it could mean a lot to your group.”
Lee, 34, spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career with the 49ers, and now he will face his former team for the second time in two seasons.
The 49ers selected punter Bradley Pinion in the fifth round, and the 49ers traded Lee to the Cleveland Browns for a seventh-round pick in 2017.
On Aug. 29, the Browns traded Lee and a seventh-round pick in 2017 to the Panthers for a since-waived player and a fourth-round pick in 2018.
Last season, Lee told CSNBayArea.com that it was a good thing that he was able to move closer to his wife, Rachel, and their two children after the death of Madelyn, their newborn daughter. The family resides in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Pinion begins his second season with the 49ers. He opened with a solid showing against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night, averaging 45.6 yards on his seven punts with a good net average of 40.1 yards.
As a rookie, Pinion ranked tied for 27th in the NFL with a 43.6 gross average and 23rd with a net average of 39.4.