CHARLOTTE – For those concerned about the 2019 edition of the Panthers offense after watching the full starting unit play a handful of snaps together against New England, allow tight end Greg Olsen to serve as the voice of reason.
"Everyone needs to relax a little bit," Olsen said. "People are jumping off the bandwagon before we've even pulled out of town.
"Anyone who has watched our group when everybody is out there knows what we were doing in the preseason is not really a great representation of our personnel and what we do with that personnel. I think Christian McCaffrey has touched the ball once? Maybe twice?"
McCaffrey touched the ball four times in the preseason to be exact (three rushes and one reception) but Olsen's point still stands.
"We feel over the 16-game schedule that we're going to be a good offense," Olsen said. "I don't think one quarter with some of our starters playing a couple plays in one preseason game is cause for, 'Oh, that's how the whole season is going to be.' I think that's foolish."
Olsen believes the offense has taken a step forward entering Year Two in Norv Turner's system. And the personnel around quarterback Cam Newton is arguably as good as it has ever been.
"We're going to be fine. We've got a lot of concepts and schemes we feel good about. We're going to try to get off to a fast start," Olsen said. "We have some things we know we do well and things we don't do so well. That's really all offensive football is, identifying your strengths, identifying your weaknesses and building a plan around that."
Olsen will obviously be a big part of that plan, and he hopes to keep it that way. Each of his last two seasons have been disrupted by foot injuries.
"It wasn't too long ago that I was as good as anybody. It wasn't like it was ten years ago," said Olsen, who recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-16.
The veteran tight end believes he's fully capable of playing at that elite level again. But the stats might not reflect that, and that's not a bad thing.
"We have a lot more guys now, so it's just a different offense. And I think that's good for everybody," Olsen said. "There are a lot of guys where the ball can go. We didn't have Christian. It's just different. And I'm totally cool with that. This is not about me chasing production."
This is about the offense being efficient, effective and well-rounded.
"We'll put our full squad out there (Week 1) and unleash everything we got," Olsen said. "and if it's not good enough, we'll get back to the drawing board and keep going."