CHARLOTTE – It's still not official, but it appears the Panthers will get two Pro Bowl players back on offense for their key Week 14 matchup with Minnesota.
Tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil are each listed as questionable, but both are expected to play.
Olsen's initial return from a broken foot was cut short against the Jets in Week 12, but Thursday he said: "(I'm) looking forward to getting out there and hopefully staying out there."
Kalil, who's been dealing with a neck injury, has played just two games – the season opener in San Francisco and Week 7 in Chicago. Like Olsen, Kalil had to exit his initial return early, but he and the Panthers feel he's at a point where he can remain on the field and play well.
"I feel really good about Kalil. He's had a really good week," head coach Ron Rivera said. "As long as everything's OK tomorrow and he shows up Sunday ready to roll, then there's a lot of confidence."
Kalil's availability is essential since backup Tyler Larsen missed the entire week of practice with a foot injury. Larsen is questionable, as are wide receivers Devin Funchess and Kaelin Clay, who each have sore shoulders. Funchess did not practice in Friday's cold and rain, but Rivera said that was precautionary.
The only Panther ruled out for Sunday is linebacker Shaq Thompson, who has plantar fasciitis in his left foot. That means more reps for nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn and linebacker David Mayo. With Thompson out, it helps that Thomas Davis won't be limited by a hamstring injury like he was last week in New Orleans.
"I definitely don't think I'm going to be on a pitch count unless we have a setback," Davis said, "but right now I'm doing really well."