CHARLOTTE – Greg Olsen rarely misses plays, much less games, so being relegated to his living room on Sundays has been strange to say the least.
"I've watched the last two games from my couch at home. It's been a very interesting morning, a very interesting day kind of wallowing around the house," Olsen said.
On injured reserve for the first time in his career, the Pro Bowl tight end hasn't enjoyed his new vantage point, but he's certainly enjoyed what he's seen on television the last couple of weeks on the heels of a slow start for the offense.
"I guess they haven't had me to mess it up," joked Olsen, out since Week 2 with a broken foot and unable to return before Week 11. "Sometimes early on there's sort of a natural progression. Cam (Newton) is playing really well, throwing the ball well and spreading it around to different guys. Kelvin (Benjamin) and Funch (Devin Funchess) have played really well these last couple of games, playing big and playing fast. Obviously Ed (Dickson) has been very productive.
"Guys are doing a hell of a job. We've just got to keep it going."
Olsen, too, is keeping on keeping on, making particularly promising progress the last couple of weeks. He's out of his cast, he has cast aside his crutches, and he could be out of his walking boot before too long.
He likely won't be spotted when the Panthers host the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football, but he could travel to Chicago to support his teammates from the sideline when they take on his former team October 22.
"We'll see. The Chicago game, we've talked about it," Olsen said. "We'll see how I'm moving around and what the status of the boot is – if I can get out of that and get into a shoe, it would be a little bit easier.
"The idea of standing on the sideline for three-and-a-half hours isn't ideal right now."
Olsen's possible return to the sideline signals the gains he's making toward his return. The way the "designated for return" system works in relation to injured reserve, Olsen can return to practice when the Panthers begin preparations for the Falcons on November 1 but won't be able to play in a game until November 26 – Week 12 – at the Jets. The Panthers have their bye in Week 11.
"You can't just lay around all day and then say, 'OK, the bone is healed,' and get up and go play tight end in the NFL. There are a lot of things that you've got to be doing all this time to make sure your body's ready for when your foot is ready so you can come back and play," Olsen said. "A lot of stuff in the weight room, some stuff in the pool, and now I can move around a little bit better so it's a little easier without the crutches to do some more things.
"We're making a lot of progress, but also I have to be patient because if I was ready tomorrow it wouldn't matter because I can't play. I'm being smart with it, making sure that when I'm back I'm back."
Olsen said he's thrilled for Dickson, who is coming off a 175-yard receiving game. He called Dickson a "starting-caliber tight end," but obviously Olsen is that and then some, almost certain because of the injury to see his unprecedented streak of three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons fall by the wayside just like his streak of 160 consecutive games already has.
"You can never have enough guys who are a threat in the passing game. You can never have too many guys to spread the ball around to," Olsen said. "When I get back out there, there's still a lot Ed can do for us – by no means does it means he's out of the offense because I'm back. Whatever is working without me now, you hope they continue to do that, and you do what has worked with me over the years.
"Everybody has their part, and in different games, different guys have production. That's the sign of a good team."
View photos of Greg Olsen checking in with the team during Friday's practice.