For the second straight season, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has broken a bone in his right foot early, and for the second straight season, one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets could miss a significant chunk of time.
Olsen suffered the most recent injury late in the first quarter of Carolina’s season-opening win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He returned to the sideline on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his right foot, the same foot he injured in Week 2 of the 2017 season. Olsen had surgery after that injury and missed more than two months, returning for a Week 12 game against the Jets.
Olsen won’t have surgery this time around.
“There are no plans for surgery at this time,” Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said, per NFL.com. “We will monitor his rehab and evaluate his progress on a monthly basis.”
Ian Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick out of Indiana, should assume the bulk of Olsen’s role in the Panthers’ offense.
“I think he’s pretty well prepared,” Coach Ron Rivera said of Thomas on Monday. “There are some things, obviously, that he still has to learn and he has a long way to go in terms of having the natural feel that Greg has and having that rapport Greg has.
“He’s been good with his blocking, he’s been good with his route running, he’s been good with his receiving. But he’s got to get better as a route runner, a blocker and a receiver. He’s a young guy. There’s a lot to his game he’s got to learn.”
Olsen, who had three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2014 to 2016, spent some time during his recovery last season in the broadcast booth, providing color commentary for Fox Sports’ broadcast of the Vikings-Rams game on Nov. 19. He reportedly considered retiring from the NFL after last season to become a full-time broadcaster but decided to return for his 12th professional season.
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