The Carolina Panthers expect to get Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen back for their game Sunday against the NFC-North leading Minnesota Vikings.
Olsen was a full participant practice at practice Wednesday, when he ran routes and caught passes from quarterback Cam Newton.
He missed last week’s loss at New Orleans, but sounded optimistic about his chances of playing during the Panthers’ three-game homestand on the more forgiving grass surface at Bank of America Stadium.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said having a good read on Olsen’s status early in the week should help the team prepare, especially offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
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“There’s not going to be a pitch count as far as number of plays that we have to hit or we don’t want to hit more than,” Rivera said. “I think it also helps Mike in terms of the game-planning and the plays that he can start prepping and get ready to call.”
Olsen experienced soreness vs. the Jets after returning from a nine-week stint on injured reserve. He still has a titanium screw in the bottom of his right foot, but said he did not re-fracture the bone.
Olsen sustained a Jones fracture – a break to his fifth metatarsal – in a Week 2 victory over Buffalo. And while Ed Dickson had done a good job filling in for Olsen, there’s no substitute for a three-time Pro Bowler who last year became the first tight end in NFL history with three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in a row.
“My fingers are still crossed. He’s been practicing for the last couple of weeks,” Newton said. “I just hope he has enough strength so he can play. We know what Greg brings to this offense.”
Olsen was not available to the media Wednesday.
Olsen got a firsthand look at this week’s opponent during the bye week when he served as a guest analyst for Fox for the Vikings-Rams game.
Minnesota GM Rick Spielman didn’t want Olsen to be part of the broadcast. But Fox went ahead with the arrangement, although Olsen did not participate in any of the production meetings with players and coaches.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he didn’t feel strongly about Olsen being in the stadium for the game.
“I didn’t even see him when he was here to talk to him or anything like that. So I don’t know,” Zimmer said Wednesday. “I mean, I don’t really have any feelings on it.”