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Greg Olsen: Good 'Day One' on and off field


CHARLOTTE – The fourth time Greg Olsen caught himself using the term, he paused to explain.

"I'm not a cliché person," Olsen said, "but it literally is Day One."

Changes have been afoot for a while both on and off of the field for the Carolina Panthers, and Tuesday qualified as a resounding restart point on both fronts.

While NFL owners in Atlanta worked toward approving David Tepper as the new owner of the franchise, Olsen and his teammates worked toward taking ownership of their new on-field look when organized team activities – OTAs – kicked off Tuesday morning.

"It was good – the first day kind of putting it all together after a good five weeks of individual stuff, workouts and stuff on the field with coaches introducing some new terminologies, new plays, new philosophies," Olsen said. "Now you get a chance to come out on the field and put it all together. Day One is Day One, but it's a start."

The Panthers fundamentally are the same team that reached the playoffs four of the past five seasons with Olsen often in the middle of it all, but every season brings change and this one is bringing plenty.

Following a flat season offensively that saw Olsen miss time for the first time since he was a rookie in 2007, the Panthers brought in Norv Turner as offensive coordinator and then added several new pieces at the skill positions.

Tuesday marked the first day the new offense was allowed to line up opposite the Panthers defense.

"We have a lot of good players, a lot of guys who are doing a good job and are coming in here with a good attitude for work," Olsen said. "I think we're in good shape personnel-wise and scheme-wise; now we've just got to find where that all marries up and put that all together."

Having Cam Newton under center certainly qualifies as a good starting point. Newton was an interested observer this time last year coming off shoulder surgery, but he's healthy this spring.

"Having our quarterback out here, full go, full reps, it's a huge difference from last year – especially with us installing a new offense with some new wrinkles, new terminology, new ways it's been coached," Olsen said. "All of these reps are very valuable."

Turner is taking over an offense that was born from his philosophies, brought to Carolina by Rob Chudzinski, tweaked by Mike Shula and fashioned to fit with Newton's unique talents.

Now it's Turner's turn.

"I've enjoyed hearing his philosophies on offense and implementing things the way he wants them done," Olsen said. "There's always a little transition. He wants things done a certain way, and it's my job to kind of alter what I've done.

"But he's also very flexible with some things we've done in the past. He has a real sharp mind, a real open mind. It's been great to work with Norv."

And, for Olsen and Co., it's great to be working toward the season opener, one step at a time. As steps go, Tuesday was a pretty big one.

"It's been good to have the rookies out here, and we were able to sign some good veterans in free agency," Olsen said. "Again, it's Day One. But you've got to start somewhere."

View photos from the first week of organized team activities.

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