Carolina Panthers

Panthers offense in bad shape without Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen is out for awhile again, and the Carolina Panthers offense is in line for a rough time without him.

The Carolina Panthers beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, but it was not a great offensive showing in a 16-8 win. Tight end Greg Olsen left the game early on and did not return, and it has been confirmed he’ll miss significant time with a fractured right foot.

Olsen broke the same foot in Week 2 last year, had surgery and missed nine games. This time around he’s likely facing a similar time frame to return, but the team announced there are no plans for a second surgery on Tuesday.

Joe Person of The Athletic reported the Panthers will hold off on placing Olsen on injured reserve. That fosters some optimism he could return within the eight weeks he’d have to miss if he was put on IR with an eventual designation to return, as flimsy as that seems right now.

Olsen was once a picture of durability, as he missed zero games from 2008-2016. Now a second season in a row has been derailed.

In Olsen’s absence, Carolina will turn to rookie Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz as their top two tight ends. Thomas had two catches for four yards against Dallas in Week 1, and Manhertz has three career catches now into his third season.

Rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore played just 17 of 67 snaps in the season opener, so he would theoretically be in line for more playing time with Olsen out. If Curtis Samuel is able to return quickly, after undergoing a procedure for an irregular heartbeat and missing Week 1, that would add a weapon to the cast around Cam Newton too.

Next: The No. 1 reason each NFL team can be excited for 2018 season

Through the years, Norv Turner’s offense has functioned at its peak with a top-notch tight end in place. Olsen’s absence throws that off-track this year, but there’s internal optimism Thomas can hit the ground running as he steps into a big role.

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