Panthers TE Olsen hopes to return in Week 6

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen says it’s “not out of the question” that he returns from a fractured foot when the Carolina Panthers play at Washington a week from Sunday.

Olsen practiced on Wednesday for the first time since re-fracturing his right foot in the opener against Dallas, an injury that sidelined him for nine games a year ago. He already has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, but moved around well enough on a limited basis in one-on-one and individual drills to be encouraged he can be ready for the Redskins.

“I don’t think it’s out of the question,” Olsen said. “If everyone, the doctors and I, feel like I’m ready I’m going to play. If I can play, I’m always going to err on the side of playing. But I want to be able to play and help the team.”

Olsen has avoided a longer rehab because the screw that was surgically implanted last year when he broke the foot in Week 2 kept the bone from completely breaking again.

Since there was no surgery and no lengthy time in bed recovering he has been able to maintain his conditioning and quickly go from a walking boot to no boot at all.

Wednesday’s practice, which followed running at close to full speed working on the side two days earlier, left the three-time Pro Bowl selection encouraged that he would be closer to his normal playing level than he was a year ago when it took him a few games to adjust.

“It stinks doing it again,” Olsen said. “It’s also the benefit of I kind of now know what to expect. I know what it’s supposed to feel like and not supposed to feel like. I’m ahead of where I was this time last year.

“I’m confident I’ll be better when I first come back and play a game than I was those first couple of games when I came back last year.”

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner can’t wait for the return of Olsen, who from 2014 to ’16 became the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

“He was just putting on a show for you all,” Turner joked of Olsen running routes and catching passes during the media portion of Wednesday’s practice. “He’s not far away. Obviously, he brings a lot on and off the field. He just has a great understanding of the offense and he helps all the young guys.”

Unlike a year ago, when he was at home recovering from surgery, Olsen has stayed involved in team meetings. But the big step was getting involved in practice, something Olsen asked to do when his foot responded well following Monday’s workout.

“We thought with some time it would respond pretty well,” Olsen said. “It has. We’ve done everything possible to expedite that as fast as we could.”



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