Hello and welcome to my new series of articles for PanthersInsider. Hopefully this will turn out to be a running series and not just a one-shot deal. What I plan to do is to introduce you to the lesser-known Carolina Panthers. I'm sure everyone knows everything about players like Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers, but can you honestly tell me anything about Jason Kyle, other than he's our long-snapper? I didn't think so. So I'll be bringing you information about players like Jason throughout the summer so that you can know every single Panther and truly call yourself a "Know-it-all Fan."
The reason I brought up Jason Kyle in my intro, is because he will be the focus of my very-first Biography Article. He's probably the least known of all of the returning Panthers this season. He's been with the team since 2001, when he was signed as an unrestricted free-agent from the San Francisco 49ers, but there are probably a lot of you that don't know a single thing about him. Well, after reading this, hopefully you'll know a thing or two more about him. -- M.C.
Jason is a native of Tempe, AZ where he grew up and later attended college at Arizona State. His position in college was Inside Linebacker where he led the team in tackles during his senior season with 130. Kyle once racked up 20 individual tackles in a game against Miami(FL). He played in the East-West Shrine Bowl with his team and participated in the Senior Bowl after his senior season. When he left college, Kyle definitely left his mark with 204 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions in 31 games (17 in which he was the started).
Things were looking up for Jason as he was entering the 1995 NFL Draft. Jason was most likely to be picked early in the second day and hopefully have a nice pro-career ahead of him. With the 28th pick in the 4th round, Kyle was selected by the Seattle Seahawks (126th overall), and played on Special Teams in all 16 of the Seahawks games that year ending the season with 14 special teams tackles. It was in 1996 that teams realized what a good long-snapper Jason was.
Jason had finally found his place on the team and was a vital part of the Seahawks in his two pro seasons. Then, in 1997, Jason suffered a shoulder injury in a preseason game that landed him on the IR for the rest of the season. Kyle was healthy again in 1998, however the Seahawks didn't want to risk further injury to him, and he was used almost solely in the long snapper role. Kyle only had 3 special teams tackles that year.
In 1999, the Cleveland Browns selected Jason in the 8th round of the expansion draft from the Seahawks. Kyle wanted to prove to the coaching team that he could be used as a Linebacker in addition to his long-snapping duties, but again found himself missing the season due to injury. This time it was a knee injury that landed him on the physically unable to perform list. After being in the league for 5 years, Kyle had already missed 2 of them due to injury.
As the 2000 season rolled around, Jason was unaware that he was looking forward to another season of inactivity. He was released by the Browns after training camp and was picked up by the St. Louis Rams in October. He was with the team for 11 days before he was released again. When he was picked up by the 49ers the day before Halloween, he was ready to play, and play he did, in two games before being deactivated for another 4 games. He was brought back for the second to last game to serve on special teams before being deactivated once again.
Kyle became a free-agent after the 2000 season and was wary that no team would want him after frequent injuries and floating between so many teams. The Panthers took a risk on him and signed him to a contract. Kyle rose to the occasion and was used as long-snapper on both punts and field goals for all 16 games. His efforts helped Todd Sauerbrun record the highest punting average since 1963 and in leading the NFL in gross average and net average while ranking second in punts inside the 20.
Jason continued his dominance at his long-snapping duties for the next three years for the Panthers. His prowess could be felt the most in the 2003 season when so many of their games were won by less than 3 points. In those tense situations when a field goal is all you need, it's nice to have someone snapping the ball that you can count on to get right on target. He hasn't missed a game since joining the Panthers (64 consecutive games) and is a vital cog in the Panthers Special Teams machine.
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