CHARLOTTE – The Panthers will be getting at least one Pro Bowl player back on offense Sunday against the Jets. The other is "questionable."
Head coach Ron Rivera on Friday said the team is ready to activate tight end Greg Olsen, who's been on injured reserve since he broke his right foot in Week 2. With Olsen set to join the active roster, wide receiver Curtis Samuel will head to IR. The second-round pick recently had season-ending surgery on the left ankle he fractured in the Panthers' last game, a Week 10 victory over the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
While Olsen is expected to start Sunday, it's still unclear if center Ryan Kalil will play at all. He's one of three Panthers listed as questionable, joining fellow center Tyler Larsen and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
"By far this was one of his better weeks," Rivera said of Kalil, who's been limited to just two games with a neck injury. "But we go through it and want to make sure we're making the right decision at the right time."
It's possible Kalil could play even if he doesn't start.
"You want to build (up his snap count) gradually," Rivera said. "That's why I think a little at a time is something we really have to think about."
As he has been all week, Rivera is more "optimistic" about Larsen's status. He injured his foot against the Dolphins but came back to finish the game.
Munnerlyn, meanwhile, is the biggest question mark. He missed his third straight practice, making him unlikely to face the Jets.
"We'll see how he is (Saturday) morning," Rivera said. "He's sick, he's ill and you just can't predict these things."
If Munnerlyn doesn't play, linebacker Shaq Thompson could see increased playing time in the slot. Rivera, who wouldn't share who else could play nickel, would only say: "We have a plethora of defensive backs that we can use in that situation."