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Grill Bill: Olsen's snaps and deep fried turkey

Posted Nov 22, 2017

Answering your pressing – and not-so-pressing – questions of the week.

When I did weekly snap counts at my former website, Black and Blue Review, I could usually count on plugging in 100 percent for seven guys on offense: the five linemen, Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. So your question made me wonder how many times Olsen has played every snap since he became Carolina’s full-time tight end in 2012. The answer is 56 out of 88 possible games. But amend the question to at least 90 percent of snaps and the new answer is 79 of 88.

Anyway, that’s not answering your question. 

We know Olsen’s an ironman who had missed just two games in his 11-year career until he broke his foot in Week 2, and when he’s back on the field Sunday in New Jersey, he’s not going to want to come off. But the Panthers need to ease him back in with, say, more than 50 percent of snaps, but not anything like 90-some percent. A broken foot can sometimes be a finicky injury to come back from, so both Olsen and the Panthers need to play this slow and smart. 


Good question, which I touched on here. 

One factor in the Panthers’ resurgent run game has been Armah’s lead blocking. He hasn’t gotten a ton of playing time, so it's not a huge reason, but he’s been effective. It may come down to either him or Chris Manhertz getting a jersey in New Jersey on Sunday. But it could be even more complicated than that. 

Which I’ll touch on here: 


I asked Ron Rivera about the logjam on Monday, and he said: “You wish you had at least one more body you're allowed to have active. You'd love to be able to have 47 out there, but you don't. So we've just got to figure it out. A lot of it's based on how a guy practices and participates, part of it will be game planning, so there's a lot of things that go into play.”

That’s not just coach-speak. Because so much has to do with the final game plan, decisions on this won't be made until Friday at the earliest. But we can at least start to narrow things down.

Because they haven’t been or usually aren’t active, I’d say you can pencil in defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., linebacker Andrew Gachkar, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, CB LaDarius Gunter and offensive tackle John Theus as five of the seven inactives. The other two will likely come from this list: 

  • Armah
  • Manhertz

Aside from the debate whether to have both Armah and Manhertz active, here are some other questions coaches will have to answer:

  • Kalil is close to coming back, but that's no sure thing yet and Larsen is dealing with a foot injury. So if both feel good enough to go, does Van Roten have to be available as an emergency option? 
  • If that scenario happens, Silatolu or Moton could be the odd man out – but who would it be? 
  • For an offense that is dead-set on getting faster and just lost Curtis Samuel, does that make Whittaker more worthy of a spot over Artis-Payne, who’s shown he deserves an uptick in touches? 

None of that will likely decide if the Panthers beat the Jets, but Sunday could be one of the more interesting inactive lists in a while. 


It’s good, and I really like this year’s batch, but like many highly anticipated seasonal releases, it’s nearly impossible to live up to the hype. 


These two fit nicely together, so let’s start with what offensive coordinator Mike Shula said recently: “It’s probably going to be by committee. … Is there anybody as fast as (Samuel)? There’s some guys on the team that would say yeah. We’re going to try hard to find ways to put guys in place with what they do best, and have them go do it.”

The only players on the roster who could perhaps back up a claim of being as fast Samuel would be wideouts Kaelin Clay and Damiere Byrd, who's not eligible to come off IR until next week. So for an offense that wants speed on the field, I’d say it’s safe to assume Clay will see more playing time against the Jets than he’s had in his first three games since rejoining the Panthers. Then it’s up to the other guys – Devin Funchess, Russell Shepard, Bersin and maybe even Christian McCaffrey – to give Newton options from the outside. 


I’m not sure we’ve been watching the same team because I haven’t noticed a lack of pass rush by the front four.

Julius Peppers has been Julius Peppers. Mario Addison is still flying too far under the national radar. Kawann Short has lived up to his big contract. Star Lotulelei continues to do the dirty work. Vernon Butler has turned it on after his early-season benching. 

I’ll give you this: Charles Johnson has been quiet. He has 13 quarterback pressures but no sacks. We need to remember, though – Johnson had back surgery this offseason. Back surgery! He wasn’t nearly 100 percent to start the year, but he’s been regaining strength, and there’s a feeling inside the building he could be trending for a big finish. 

I’ll also give you this: It’s not easy to figure out how effective the front four has been by itself because of all the blitzing defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has done this season. But he’s not sending extra guys as a Plan B. Generally, the Panthers are trying to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand as soon as possible, and Wilks is using the blitz to help make that happen. Also, while pressure has gotten home a decent amount of times (Carolina is tied for fourth with 29 sacks), the pass rush is mostly designed to get a guy off his spot. That didn’t work so well against Drew Brees in Week 3 or the fourth quarter against Tom Brady, but it’s hard to quibble much with how the defense has played through 10 games – including the front four. 


Let's wrap up with a Thanksgiving-themed lightning round: 

Fried. Especially with this fantastic convenience I bought off an infomercial a few years back:

Which you can hear more about near the end of this week's Panthers Podcast


Boring answer from a boring eater – mashed potatoes. 


My mom’s chocolate pudding pie with real whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top of a graham cracker crust. 


Option A. And that GIF is … something. 

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