CHARLOTTE – On Friday, the Panthers announced the roster move that everyone knew was coming: rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel placed on injured reserve and tight end Greg Olsen coming off injured reserve and taking Samuel's spot on the active roster.
Olsen hasn't played since breaking his foot in Week 2, and the Panthers are obviously thrilled to put the Pro Bowl tight end back in the lineup.
"It's exciting," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's obviously a part of what we do, and we haven't had him for a while. We just feel good about getting him back, especially going into this final stretch of the season."
But Rivera knows the Panthers must manage their excitement and work Olsen back into the fold gradually after such a long absence.
"We're going to try to do it judiciously," Rivera said. "We've got to save him from himself and save him from us. You get a guy like that, you want to keep him out there as much as you can. But just knowing his conditioning and football shape isn't where it needs to be right now. … You don't want to throw Greg out there and have him go 60 plays. So we really have to be smart."
As for Samuel, the rookie recently underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his ankle. The second-round pick battled through injuries throughout the season before seeing his season come to an end prematurely.
"It's going to be a long rehab, obviously, especially because it happened this late in the season," Rivera said. "But all indications are it went well."
View practice photos from the week leading up to the Panthers' game against the Jets.