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'I've been very blessed' | Panthers player will set franchise record for games played on Sunday

When he suits up in Seattle, J.J. Jansen will play in his 222nd game for Carolina.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — J.J. Jansen has done a great job being available to play 221-straight games to this point, so it's an important week to make sure he's ready for No. 222.

"I think the guys are probably not trying to hit me in the side of the head or anything like that," Jansen said. "But it's the same as every week."

If the longtime Panthers long snapper is a go this Sunday in Seattle, he'll break the franchise record for games played.

He tied former kicker John Kasay in a Week 12 win against the Broncos, playing in his 221st game.

After the victory, he received a commemorative ball from owner David Tepper.

The normally-talkative Jansen was rendered speechless.

"A lot of memories came rushing back," Jansen said. "For 14 years I've been the guy in the crowd."

It's easy to take for granted the job Jansen has done for the Panthers in that 14 years. 

The long snapper's job is to snap the ball perfectly to the punter or the holder. 

And Jansen has been nearly perfect for a decade and a half.

"I don't know if there have been any secrets," he said. "I've been very blessed. The Lord has protected me in a lot of different ways on a football field, on a practice field. I've been given a tremendous opportunity to be here, playing for this team for a long time."

Jansen has bridged the gap between multiple generations of Panthers past and present.

He's played for three head coaches and two interim coaches. 

And he's shared the field with the franchise's best players from Steve Smith to Cam Newton to Brian Burns.

It gives him an interesting perspective.

"This last year has been a special time," he said. "There have been a few special moments where I've been given the tremendous honor to explain to young players what this place is all about."

But the difference between 222 games played and zero was slim. 

Early in his career the Notre Dame grad was hurt with the Green Bay Packers and thought it was over.

Jansen was almost certain he was headed home to Phoenix, probably to begin a career as an accountant.

But the Panthers traded for him, and he's been their long snapper ever since.

Those 221 games played? They're consecutive. He hasn't missed one.

In Carolina the first kicker he worked with was Kasay. 

On Sunday, he'll break his record. 

Tying it at home two weeks ago was meaningful.

"To have an older player who knew the ropes take me under his wing and show me how to be a pro, how to be a specialist, that was a really impactful thing for me in my life and my career," Jansen said. "It's been fun because I've been able to slowly, hopefully, give that back."

Many kickers, punters and other specialists play into their forties, and the 36-year-old Jansen would like to do that, too.

"I'd like to play four or five more years," he said. "I'd love for it to be here in Carolina. If it has to be someplace else it has to be someplace else. The special thing about my job is I'm learning so many new things in my 15th season. There's a constant rekindling of the love of the game and the love of the craft of long snapping."

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