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Carolina Panthers

Grill Bill: Olsen nontroversy, TV flexes and T-Swizzle


This is great to start with during the bye week since it won't affect anything. Not this weekend, not when the Panthers play Minnesota in Week 14. 

I think what many are missing is Greg Olsen is doing the Vikings-Rams broadcast to gain experience for what could eventually become his next career. So he won't be focused on stealing secrets, and as he said a week ago – well before this became a thing – he never expected to be inside production meetings or at a Vikings' practice. 

So what's left is:

1.) Olsen could double as an advance scout, possibly seeing things on the field that he wouldn't if he were just watching on TV. 

His counterargument? 

"We have scouts at every game across the league. I'm going to have enough trouble on my hands broadcasting a game, let alone looking for little nuances on the sideline."

2.) Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis, Olsen's broadcast partners, will likely be at a Vikings' practice and they will be inside production meetings. So the info they glean could be shared with Olsen, even incidentally. 

His counter to that? 

"For anyone who has ever been in those broadcast production meetings, if you're spilling your deepest, darkest game-plan secrets to the broadcast crew, that's kind of on you. We're not getting anything that's really going to give you much insight on how to beat them."

The only valid question I see in this whole thing is why can't FOX put Olsen on another game? 

I can't answer that, but I can tell you this is the crew that was supposed to include Jay Cutler this season – so FOX already feels comfortable with a three-man booth idea. Plus, when Olsen had a test-run in the summer of 2016, he did it with Burkhardt. 

FOX obviously doesn't see it as a big deal, and I can't help but roll my eyes at something that seems tailor made for our online world that desperately wants to be upset at everything. 

Shouldn't a bigger concern in Minneapolis be what former Vikings Captain Munnerlyn and Matt Kalil know about the Vikings' schemes? 

Worrying about adding a Pro Bowl player back into the mix does sound crazy, but it's not that wild of a notion. 

Here's what Olsen said when I asked him the gist of your question: 

"I'm not naivé. I understand how coming back in and become a part of what we're doing, what's working and not disrupt that. I get it. That's what happens when you're gone for a little while. Things evolve without you. The game continues to go on and it's your job when you come back to make sure you fit in. You can't expect everybody to now just throw out everything that's gone on the past eight weeks, just say, 'OK, Greg's back. We're going to throw him the ball 10 times.' Maybe they do. That'll be great."

He said that last part with a laugh, but of course he'd love to be as involved as he's been since arriving with Cam Newton in 2011. But to answer your question, Olsen's obviously a different player than Benjamin, whose route tree wasn't all that advanced beyond two or three patterns.

Olsen can line up in multiple spots and find open spaces all over the field, including down the seam. That's important for an offense whose main goal right now – beyond keeping up its rediscovered run game – is to stretch defenses and spread the ball around. 

Before the Benjamin trade, I was wondering how Olsen's return would affect Funchess' touches. But now I think a three-time Pro Bowl tight end should only help.

For those wondering, the omelet station is a wondrous world in the players' and coaches' cafeteria. But it will be going dark Friday through Sunday. 

And, Joey, your buddy Ryan Kalil wanted me to pass along this message: Stop asking dumb questions and focus on drawing. 

Since I'm not a doctor, I'll just tell you what I see: Kalil's working his butt off to get back. 

And you did see some Greg Van Roten at center. You hurt me, though, because apparently you didn’t see the final item of Tuesday's 6-Pack

New Orleans game got moved to 4 p.m. Any chance of the Minnesota game on 12/10 getting flexed? Hopefully not. — Andrew (@tarheel062) November 15, 2017

Sorry, but that sure looks flexible. 

The current Sunday Night Football game that week features the Steelers against the 4-5 Ravens. So that's not lining up to be a marquee matchup. NBC's first choice would likely be Eagles at Rams, but FOX would probably protect that in its late afternoon window.

Right now, a game in Charlotte between two of the NFC's other top teams looks potentially primetime-worthy, but that call doesn't have to be made until Nov. 28.

Can the return of Damiere Byrd make up for the loss of Samuel? Might Mose Frasier or another practice squad WR get called up? — Tom Dunphy (@TomDunphy) November 15, 2017

It's strange to think losing a rookie who had just 15 catches could be a huge deal, but there's obviously a reason Samuel was a second-round pick – and in Monday's first half, we really began to see some of those reasons. 

It's also strange to think a guy with only one career catch may be somewhat of a savior, but it's worth holding out hope Byrd could be. He at least has the speed the Panthers need to scare defenses vertically.

I'd be surprised if they brought on a wideout from the practice squad or elsewhere. Probably just Olsen off injured reserve in Week 12 followed by Byrd in Week 13, and at this point in the season, those are pretty nice options to have. 

Can I just say yes?

But I did publicly admit this the other day: 

Speaking of publicly admitting things I should probably keep to myself, this went way over my head. 

I thought it was a reference to Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, but he's "T-Sizzle." So after googling "T-Swizzle," I was again reminded just how out of touch and old I now am.  

Life truly does come at you fast. 

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