Glendale, Ariz. – Greg Olsen has a strict pregame routine. There are sequences of routes, catches and stretches. Those help him in his current job.
The Panthers’ tight end also seems to always find time for the game’s broadcasters, like on Sunday when he chatted with FOX’s Dan Hellie and Brady Quinn. And that’s when you can picture him in his next job.
But as Olsen showed against the Cardinals, there’s a reason he’s still holding off the full-time TV gig.
“I still enjoy this. I still enjoy moments like this,” Olsen said after catching six passes for 75 yards and two scores to help Kyle Allen and the Panthers earn a 38-20 win in Arizona.
“I still enjoy being in the huddle during the week at practice, being in the huddle out there with the guys. I feel like I had a lot of unfinished business. That would have been a sour way to end my career, to just fall off a cliff the last two years and fall into obscurity.”
As harsh as it may sound, you can understand Olsen’s “fall off a cliff” feelings. For 10 seasons, he was as dependable as could be, appearing in 160 straight games. Then he broke a bone in his foot two weeks into the 2017 season, which led to 16 games missed the past two years. But surgery in December finally fixed the problem, and three weeks into 2019, he leads the Panthers with 221 yards on 16 receptions.
“I knew if I could just get my foot right, I knew I could still play. Last year with half a foot, I could still be productive,” Olsen said. “The last couple years I haven’t been able to do that. So that’s nice playing again without being miserable.
“It’s not ideal (playing) with your foot busted. So I knew if I could just get healthy and get back, I knew I could still play, I knew what I could do. I don’t care how old I am; I still feel like I can do what everybody else does.”
Others will care about his age, though. It’ll continue to be brought up a lot, like how Sunday’s broadcast constantly referenced the “34-year-old tight end.”
“I wear it with honor,” said Olsen, who is the oldest player on the Panthers’ roster.
While Olsen is out of the woods with his foot problems, he did deal with a sore back the past few weeks. Still, he managed to combine for 12 receptions and 185 against Tampa Bay and Arizona, his most productive two-game stretch since he burned the Buccaneers and Saints for 15 catches and 275 yards midway through the 2016 season.
“Dealing with the back wasn’t an ideal way to end training camp, but I got through that. Today I felt like finally I could run and separate and not be caught in my own head of being in pain. I haven’t had that in a long time,” Olsen said. “Since 2016, I hadn’t played a game where I felt normal. It’s nice. It’s a lot easier to play when you’re not a disaster.”
Olsen will see Arizona again this year. That’ll come during the Panthers’ Week 7 bye when he’s in the FOX booth to help call Cardinals at Giants. Until then, he’ll hope to get through these next three games like the first three.
“This is the furthest I’ve made it in the season in three years,” Olsen said with a self-deprecating laugh.
“It just feels good to be able to play feeling good again, feeling like I felt for 10 years. But it’s Week 3. We’ve got a long ways to go, and I’m going to try my best to continue to feel well. Because when I feel good health-wise, I still know I can do anything anybody else can do.”