Panthers still searching for kick returner after Jones fails physical

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers may have to use an inexperienced, fumble-prone duo returning punts in the season opener.

Attempts to bring back last year's return man, Mark Jones, were derailed Monday when he failed a physical. Jones was cut by Tennessee last week after being slowed by a hamstring injury in the preseason.

The Panthers were looking for an upgrade after Kenny Moore and Captain Munnerlyn struggled fielding punts in exhibition games. Munnerlyn is a rookie, while Moore is a second-year pro who has never appeared in a regular-season game. Each fumbled in Carolina's preseason finale Thursday against Pittsburgh.

Rookie Mike Goodson is expected to return kickoffs Sunday against Philadelphia.

The Panthers released their return man from 2007, Ryne Robinson, last week.

Jones was signed before last season after Robinson injured his knee and averaged 11.4 yards on punt returns, seventh best in the NFL. His 24-yard average on kickoffs was the best for Carolina since Steve Smith averaged 25.6 yards in 2001.

The Panthers on Monday did fill seven of their eight slots for the practice squad. Quarterback Hunter Cantwell, receiver Jason Chery, defensive tackle George Hypolite and linebackers Mortty Ivy and Kelvin Smith were with Carolina in the preseason.

Center Dustin Fry was among Cleveland's final cuts, while cornerback Marcus Walker was waived Saturday by Minnesota.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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