Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS – John Kasay couldn’t have asked for a worse beginning with his new team.
Known for his kicks with the Carolina Panthers that doused the hopes of Saints fans year after year, Kasay couldn’t find a way to hit a kick when it mattered for the home team.
Kasay missed left on a 39-yard field goal and a point-after before he drilled a 38-yarder late in the fourth quarter in New Orleans’ 32-9 loss to Tennessee in the Saints’ preseason finale.
“My job is to make kicks and that’s why they brought me here,” Kasay said. “I didn’t do a very good job tonight.”
Incumbent kicker Garrett Hartley tweaked his left hip in New Orleans penultimate preseason game and according to a report in the Times-Picayune on Thursday night, he could miss 6-8 weeks with a hip flexor injury.
When asked after the game about the possibility of Hartley reportedly set to miss 8-10 weeks, Saints coach Sean Payton, “I would say that that report is inaccurate.”
If the Saints aren’t going to place Hartley on injured reserve, which Payton made it sound like after the game (“Yeah, but that gets back to if that report were accurate, we’d go that direction,” Payton said), the team is willing to eat two roster spots for kickers.
So with that in mind, Payton said it was good to see Kasay hit the 38-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that third kick was critical,” Payton said. “I thought it was important for his own confidence. Look, he has kicked in a lot of big spots. And yet, a game like this may not seem like a lot to a lot of people and for that very moment in time, the veteran kicker who has missed the first two, it was a very important kick.
“I was encouraged and glad we had another opportunity to put him on the field.”
Kasay has been accurate in his career, converting nearly 82 percent of the kicks he has attempted. A season ago, he was 24 of 29 and hit a 55-yarder for the Panthers.
After the game, Kasay was straightforward with his assessment, saying rust was not an issue.
“It doesn’t even come into the realm of reality,” Kasay said. “If you put the helmet on and you go out and you play, you have to perform at a very high level. That’s no plan B. There’s no consolation prize.”