NFL: Olsen a welcome addition
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2011
CHARLOTTE ó Tight end Greg Olsen has been an integral part of the Carolina Panthersí offense so far this season.
The Bears traded Olsen, a four-year starter, to the Panthers in July for a third-round draft pick in 2012 because he no longer fit in Chicagoís offensive scheme. Olsen has been productive in Carolina, where tight ends are a featured part of the passing game.
He has 140 yards on 13 receptions, including a game-winning 16-yard touchdown reception last week over the Jacksonville Jaguars that gave the Panthers their first win of the season. He also scored on a two-point conversion.
On Sunday, he makes his return to Soldier Field, where he caught 194 passes for 1,981 yards and 20 touchdowns in four seasons.
ěOf course I want to go up there and play well and I would be lying if I said I didnít,î Olsen said. ěBut you donít want to try to do too much and make it more than it is. Itís not the Super Bowl. We want to continue to get better and thatís the approach weíre going to take.î
Itís been reported that Olsen asked for a trade to leave Chicago, something that he vehemently disputes.
ěI didnít ask for a trade, itís about as simple as that,î Olsen said. ěThey will say what they want to and protect themselves so people wonít make them out to seem, you know, whatever. But itís over and Iím glad Iím here.î
So are the Panthers.
When the Bears informed other teams that Olsen was on the trading block, it took only minutes for the Panthers to respond with an offer.
ěWe moved immediately,î coach Ron Rivera said.
It took some bargaining on the part of both sides, but eventually a deal was struck. General manager Marty Hurney described Olsen as a ěperfect fitî in coordinator Rob Chudzinskiís offense.
Olsen and fellow tight end Jeremy Shockey have been huge safety valve outlets for young quarterback Cam Newton, combining for 25 receptions for 306 yards.
Theyíve also freed up the outside for four-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith, whoís enjoying a renaissance of sorts in his 11th season.
ěThe big reason we wanted (Olsen) is because of what we were familiar with in San Diego,î said Rivera, who was the Chargers defensive coordinator last season. ěIíd seen what we did with Antonio Gates under coach (Norv) Turner. Knowing how valuable a tight end was going to be in our offense, we made the move.î