Greg Olsen

NFC Notes: Olsen, Eagles, Breida, Giants

Greg Olsen opted against undergoing surgery on his refractured foot this season, but the Panthers tight end does expect to need a corrective procedure done on it. The Pro Bowl tight end said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person, on Twitter) he likely will need a surgery to fix his Jones fracture. However, he will try to make it through the season before doing so. Olsen’s missed the past four Panthers games but could be in line to return on Sunday, Ron Rivera said. He’s been ramping up his workouts in recent weeks and views Wednesday as the key day in determining his Week 6 availability, per the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue.

As one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFC’s history continues his coronation night, here’s the latest from the conference:

  • The ACL Jay Ajayi tore is in his left knee, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reports (on Twitter). This is key because Ajayi’s past issues have been with his right knee. Ajayi tore his right ACL while at Boise State, and his draft stock took a hit because of reports of chronic issues with that knee. The Eagles running back will undergo surgery on Thursday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). He’s not believed to have torn any additional knee ligaments. Rapoport adds this injury came while Ajayi was working in pass protection, but the fourth-year veteran played through it until game’s end.
  • Philadelphia has engaged in “exploratory” conversations regarding Le’Veon Bell, according to Rapoport (video link), but those talks haven’t really gotten off the ground. The Bell-to-Philly subject has been a disputed topic thus far this month, with some outlets reporting the Eagles aren’t going down that road and others indicating they have strongly considered doing it.
  • Fletcher Cox‘s restructured contract gave the Eagles $6.5MM in 2018 cap space, pushing that total to around $10MM. The veteran defensive tackle will see $8.19MM in base salary converted to a roster bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, adding that his 2019 base will be reduced to $930K. An option bonus of $14.76MM will be included in Cox’s contract now, per Yates, though it’s unclear when that option would vest. But Cox accepting the restructure would indicate he’s not in danger of losing that money he transferred from his 2018 and ’19 base salaries.
  • The 49ers will likely have another starting running back when they take the field against the Packers on Monday night. Matt Breida is going to be doubtful to suit up in Green Bay, Kyle Shanahan said (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, on Twitter). The good news on Breida, though, is he didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain. Instead, it’s a less severe mid-ankle sprain, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Alfred Morris would be in line to start, with Raheem Mostert possibly backing him up. Shanahan said the team will consider bringing Jeff Wilson up from the practice squad. The 49ers intended to deploy Jerick McKinnon as their starter, and they turned to Breida after the initial first-stringer’s season-ending injury. But Breida should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • Pat Shurmur wants to add a kicker to the Giants’ practice squad, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Big Blue will need another offensive tackle soon as well, being set to end the Ereck Flowers era on Tuesday. Aldrick Rosas serves as the Giants’ kicker, and the second-year UDFA is 100 percent (11-for-11) on field goals thus far.
  • Prior to signing Bryan Witzmann, the Bears visited with offensive lineman Willie Beavers, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Beavers was a fourth-round Vikings pick in 2016.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Nearing Return?

Greg Olsen was out on the practice field in a shell a helmet on Thursday, as Bill Voth of Panthers.com tweets. It’s a huge step forward for Olsen after fracturing his foot less than a month ago.

Olsen opted against having surgery and the team chose not to place him on injured reserve, which opened up the possibility of him returning before Week 9. At the time, it seemed like an ambitious plan, but Olsen seems to be inching close to recovery. The tight end has already been ruled out for this week’s game against the Giants, but he could theoretically be available for the club’s Oct. 14 game against the Redskins.

Olsen inked an extension with the Panthers this spring, tying him to the team through the 2020 season. He’s been among the league’s best tight ends since arriving in Carolina in 2011 and topped 1,000 yards receiving in each season from 2014-2016. The 33-year-old was held back by injury last year, so he’s understandably eager to return to football and reassert himself as an elite pass-catcher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen “Way Ahead Of The Curve” In Recovery

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen says his recovery from a fractured foot is progressing extremely well, according to David Newton of ESPN.com.

“Yeah, I’m way ahead of the curve,” Olsen said. “Last year at two weeks I was laying in my bed in a cast. I couldn’t do anything. I’m way ahead of the curve from that standpoint. It’s just a matter of seeing each week how your foot responds and just try to add a little more, a little more. What that time frame is, we’re optimistic. Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later.”

Nearly every report since Olsen broke his foot in the season opener has indicated the positive nature of his recovery. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported in early September that Olsen would return in a “few weeks,” while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com indicated Olsen was facing a four-to-five week timeline. Either way, it doesn’t appear Olsen will be absent for anywhere near the nine games he missed in 2017, when he suffered the same foot injury.

Olsen, who in April signed an extension through 2020, has been among the league’s best tight ends since joining the Panthers via trade in 2011. From 2014-16, Olsen earn Pro Bowl honors while topping 75 receptions and 1,000 yards in each campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Wentz, Bosa, Mariota

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could be cleared for contact this week, and that may put him on track to make his 2018 debut in Week 3, as was suggested last Sunday. But Rapoport says the team is in no rush to have Wentz return to game action, because it is more concerned about the next 10 to 15 years, not the next 10 to 15 minutes. As such, if the Eagles need to keep Wentz out longer to make sure he is fully recovered from his torn ACL and LCL, they are fully committed to doing so.

However, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Wentz is indeed on track to be back under center for the Eagles against the Colts next week, and he suggests that Philadelphia will have no issue in deploying Wentz as soon as he is cleared for contract.

Now let’s take a look at a few more reports concerning injuries to some of the league’s biggest names:

  • This is not much of a surprise given a report from earlier this week, but Schefter reports that Chargers DE Joey Bosa is expected to be sidelined until at least October. Bosa is continuing to rehab his foot with the hope that the swelling goes down and the foot stabilizes, but surgery is still very much in play if that does not happen.
  • Titans QB Marcus Mariota has not yet regained complete feeling in his fingers, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Mariota is still unable to grip the football normally as a result, which means that Blaine Gabbert may be starting under center for Tennessee for at least Week 2.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is unlikely to play against the Patriots today, per Schefter, but it sounds as though Fournette is making good progress in his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered last week. Even if the second-year back is unable to suit up today, he could be back in action next week.
  • Rapoport confirms (via Twitter) a report from Tuesday that Panthers TE Greg Olsen is hoping to return much sooner than was originally anticipated when he fractured his foot in the team’s season-opening win over the Cowboys. Rapoport says that Olsen hopes to be back on the field in four to five weeks, and he will have the foot — the same one he broke last year — reevaluated after the season.
  • We received a status update on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earlier today.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen To Return In A “Few Weeks”

The timeline on Panthers tight end Greg Olsen‘s return from a fractured foot isn’t as dire as it originally appeared. Olsen says he’ll rest his foot for a “few weeks” and then return to play out the season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

That’s an incredibly more positive outlook for Olsen, whom reports earlier today would be evaluated on a month-to-month basis. Olsen missed significant time in 2017 — and was eventually placed on injured reserve — after breaking the same foot, so a lengthy absence appeared likely. But Olsen won’t undergo surgery, as he’s confident an operation can wait until this offseason.

A quick return means Olsen will be viewed as an injury risk for the remainder of the year, as both his age (33) and his foot issue give reason for concern. But his presence will undeniably be essential for the Panthers, as the club doesn’t have the tight end depth to withstand a missing Olsen. With longtime Carolina tight end Ed Dickson now in Seattle, the Panthers will turn to rookie Ian Thomas and veteran Chris Manhertz until Olsen can get back on the field.

Olsen, who in April signed an extension through 2020, has been among the league’s best tight ends since joining the Panthers via trade in 2011. From 2014-16, Olsen earn Pro Bowl honors while topping 75 receptions and 1,000 yards in each campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Fractures Foot

For the second straight season, Greg Olsen‘s going to miss time because of a foot fracture. The Panthers confirmed the Pro Bowl tight end’s exit from Sunday’s win was because of another fractured foot.

Olsen will be evaluated on a monthly basis. It appears the Panthers are preparing for the veteran pass-catcher to miss extensive time. An IR stay was required because of a similar occurrence in 2017. It’s the same right foot Olsen broke last season.

The team announced no plans are in place for Olsen to undergo surgery, but he’s almost certainly out for the foreseeable future nonetheless. Olsen missed nine games last season as a result of his foot injury; a similar absence appears likely for Cam Newton‘s top target.

This throws a wrench into the Panthers’ plans. They signed the 33-year-old tight end to a two-year extension this offseason. And Carolina does not have the depth at this position that existed on its 2017 roster. Ed Dickson defected as a free agent. Former waiver claim Chris Manhertz and fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas, an Indiana product, comprise the Panthers’ backup contingent.

The Panthers also revealed Daryl Williams will undergo knee surgery, and the Charlotte Observers’ Jourdan Rodrigue tweets it’s the same knee the right tackle injured during training camp. Although, it’s a different injury. Williams damaged his MCL and dislocated his patella during camp. Rodrigue notes Williams had an MRI done Monday morning and sought a second opinion before deciding to undergo surgery. It’s unclear precisely what the contract-year blocker is dealing with now.

An IR decision looms for the Panthers, with two players seemingly posing as candidates. Though, that’s not a choice the Panthers would want to make after Week 1, when other injuries could surely occur down the line. But Williams does appear headed there, per Rodrigue (on Twitter). The current line of thinking, though, points to Olsen avoiding the injured list. Of course, Williams was believed to be an IR candidate after his last knee injury only to avoid it and play in Week 1.

It’s unclear how long he will be out, but Amini Silatolu looks to be the next man up, per ESPN.com’s David Newton, who adds Thomas will get the first crack at replacing Olsen as the Panthers’ tight end starter. While Silatolu will get a look, the Panthers are expected to be on the lookout for tackle help, Newton adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Sign Greg Olsen To Extension

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has landed a new contract. The veteran is signing a two-year extension worth $17.1MM that could be worth as much as $20.1MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. If Olsen nails his incentives, he’ll edge Jimmy Graham as the league’s highest-paid player at the position. 

Olsen flirted with the idea of transitioning into TV this offseason and even auditioned for ESPN’s vacant color commentary role on Monday Night Football. His new and improved contract will keep him out of the broadcast booth, at least for now.

My preference would be to know my future here in Carolina past this year, if I’m being honest. Whether or not that happens, we’ll see,” Olsen said earlier this month. “But that would be the ideal situation and then that would answer a lot of these unknown questions.”

Olsen has some questions of his own to answer after injuries slowed him in 2017. Olsen reeled off three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-16 and pushed hard for a new contract before last season. In 2017, he was limited to just seven games and he totaled less than 200 yards receiving.

The Panthers retooled their receiving group a bit this year by adding Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright. Still, Olsen projects to serve as one of Cam Newton‘s favorite targets once again in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Seeking New Contract

For the second offseason in a row, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is looking for a new contract. In an interview with Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, Olsen indicated that he wants a contract that will take him beyond the 2018 season. 

My preference would be to know my future here in Carolina past this year, if I’m being honest. Whether or not that happens, we’ll see,” Olsen said. “But that would be the ideal situation and then that would answer a lot of these unknown questions.”

Last year, made waves when he auditioned to become an analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Panthers officials believed that Olsen was looking into the position for something down the road, but that timeline could conceivably be accelerated if Olsen doesn’t get the revised contract he wants.

The reality of it is there’s not a lot of those jobs out there and when they ask you to come in and go through that audition process and go through those motions, it’s a great opportunity,” Olsen said. “My mind and my prep has always been on playing. But the reality is those jobs do get your attention a little bit and you’ve at least got to look behind the curtain.”

Last year, Olsen pushed for an extension that would give him a raise over the remainder of his three-year, $22.5MM deal. At one point, he even intimated that he would consider staying home during training camp. Ultimately, he showed up for work and got some incentives added to his deal that could have given him an additional $2MM in 2018. Unfortunately, a broken foot prevented the tight end from reaching those bonuses.

For now, Olsen is under contract for one more year with a cap hit of $9.75MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Auditions For ESPN

Could Greg Olsen transition to the broadcast booth? The Panthers tight end is auditioning to be an analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post (Twitter links). Marchand adds that he could also be in the mix for FOX’s Thursday Night Football, if Peyton Manning turns down the job. 

While Olsen was sidelined last season, he called a game for FOX and did well. His performance during the Nov. 19 game between the Rams and Vikings led many to think that Olsen could have a future in TV someday. Few thought that Olsen could consider the transition now, however.

For what it’s worth, Panthers officials are aware that Olsen is in Bristol, Connecticut (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s David Newton). However, they believe this is more about planning for the future and that Olsen plans to play this season.

Olsen, 33, pushed the Panthers for a new contract last season. Ultimately, he agreed to continue on his deal, though the team added $2MM in incentives to his pact for 2017. If Olsen is on the fence between suiting up in 2018 or beginning his broadcasting career, the Panthers may have to sweeten the pot yet again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Winston, Panthers, Saints

Jameis Winston is on track to return for the Buccaneers this weekend after missing time with a shoulder injury. But the third-year quarterback potentially has another battle to fight off the field. An Uber driver accused Winston of sexual assault, and although he’s denied the allegation, the NFL’s launched an investigation that is expected to carry over into the offseason. Thursday, Winston was asked if he’s worried a suspension would come his way. The Bucs quarterback (via the Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman, on Twitter) said he has “no fear at all.” ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month many around the league expect the Winston proceedings to become a contentious process.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South.

  • Ron Rivera is comfortable playing Greg Olsen on Sunday even if he doesn’t practice this week, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets, adding the Panthers‘ Pro Bowl tight end’s rest thus far during the practice week is “precautionary.” Olsen aggravated the foot injury that sidelined him for most of this season on Sunday and returned this to see the Charlotte-stationed foot specialist who performed his surgery, Person reports (on Twitter). Olsen did not re-fracture his foot, per Person, but has a pain-tolerance decision to make before playing. He’s uncertain to face the Saints, who have their own issues at tight end.
  • Coby Fleener will not play in Sunday’s pivotal matchup with the Panthers. The Saints tight end is in concussion protocol and is week-to-week, but he’s not going to be ready for Week 13, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The NFL insider notes this unfortunate setback could linger for Fleener. While not a high-end threat in the Saints’ passing game, Fleener has suited up in all 11 Saints contests this season. Backup Josh Hill has just nine receptions this year.
  • Willie Snead has joined Fleener as a bit player in New Orleans’ passing game, being well off his paces set the past two seasons. The third-year wideout admitted he is frustrated about his current role, one that has him at just three receptions for 32 yards, Amos Morale III of NOLA.com notes. Snead served a three-game suspension and missed multiple games due to injury, but for an exclusive-rights free agent that came into training camp wanting an amended contract, Snead is having a disastrous season for that prospect. He caught 69 and 72 passes the past two years, respectively, and approached 1,000 yards in each. Snead will be a restricted free agent in 2018.
  • It will take a contract similar to the one the Panthers authorized for Trai Turner to keep the Turner-Andrew Norwell guard tandem intact long-term, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. The recent rise in guard money figures to benefit Norwell, a UFA-to-be and possibly set to be the top guard available on next year’s market. The franchise tag won’t be an option for Carolina, considering the system groups all offensive linemen together, and Corry writes Norwell could exceed Kevin Zeitler‘s guard-record five-year, $60MM pact.