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Notebook: Olsen a Constant Threat

Posted Jan 14, 2016

Tight end Greg Olsen ready for Seahawks' familiar but formidable defense; Joe Webb does his best Russell Wilson impression; Panthers staying loose in face of playoff pressure.

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers know the Seahawks' defense well. There isn't a lot of smoke and mirrors with their approach. They'll often put eight defenders in the box, with safety Kam Chancellor near the line of scrimmage and free safety Earl Thomas lurking in the deep middle.

Opposing offenses know what looks to expect. But over the years, Seattle's simplicity has proven to be incredibly effective. The Seahawks boast the league's No.1 scoring defense for four years running.

"They are going to play their defense. We are going to know where they are," tight end Greg Olsen said. "The challenge is executing. They play that defense at a very high level – probably better than anybody in the league. They have the personnel to do it.

"We understand the challenge," Olsen added. "We understand what it's going to take to win. It's just a matter of going out and doing it."

Olsen figures to be a key piece of the puzzle if the Panthers are to defeat the Seahawks on Sunday in their NFC Divisional showdown.

The Pro Bowl tight end caught seven passes for 131 yards and hauled in the game-winning 26-yard touchdown in the closing moments of Carolina's Week 6 victory at Seattle.

Surely, the Seattle defense will be intent on keeping Olsen under wraps this time around. But as he did earlier in the year, Olsen will work to create more problems for the Seahawks secondary down the field.

"Each defense comes out with a game plan to try to throw a couple things at you to take away what you do best," Olsen said. "But it's my job, our job as an offense to be able to overcome that and not allow people to schematically take you out. Move around, run better routes, get open and catch the ball when the windows are tight. That's what we're paid to do."

WEBB OF DECEPTION: Joe Webb does so many different things for the Panthers that it's almost like he's more than one player.

This week, he's one player in particular – Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

"Joe Webb does a good job with that," linebacker Luke Kuechly said of Webb standing in as Wilson on the scout team in practice. "Joe is athletic like Russell. He can run. He's fast. He's got some moves.

"We've got a good guy to try to replicate him. Obviously Russell's got a very unique skill set – no one can quite do what he does – but fortunately we have a guy who can run around and create some stuff, and he's been giving us a great look this week."

Webb is the Panthers' third-string quarterback, but he's also lined up at wide receiver and this season has developed into a special teams stalwart.

PANTHERS STAYING LOOSE: Webb was a part of another strong showing at practice for the Panthers as Sunday's game draws near. After practice in the locker room, players showed no signs of being anxious about the impending showdown, with some breaking into dance at one point.

"It goes back to their personality," head coach Ron Rivera said. "They're loose, but they're working hard, preparing hard.

"I thought it was a good practice again today. This is all a part of who they are. As long as we're focusing the way we need to, it's about not being uptight. It's about being focused and prepared."

Senior writer Bryan Strickland contributed to this report.