There come times in players’ careers that show their character, and test their will. Carolina Panthers Tight End Greg Olsen had that exact moment on Sunday, when he broke his foot. Olsen was emotional in his post game press conference when he confirmed the news that so many Panthers and fans feared. Olsen will miss between six to eight weeks, and will end his streak of 160 straight games played. It will also probably end another goal of Olsen’s this season. To be the first Tight End in NFL history with four straight 1000 yard seasons. Even bigger than Olsen’s personal stats, is how his absence will affect the Panthers going forward.
Back in 2015 Greg Olsen went down on a scary play against the Atlanta Falcons. Although Olsen was o.k. on the play Cam Newton afterwards stated he almost wouldn’t want to play anymore if Olsen couldn’t. The Panthers were in the middle of a Super Bowl run that season, so let that sink in. Now Cam will have no choice, but to play without the All-Pro. However, Olsen will remain a strong present in the locker room as a leader. The defense has been so good up to this point, because of Julius Peppers and Thomas Davis‘s leadership. Olsen will need to be this great of a leader for Ed Dickson. Olsen’s absence could help Cam to grow, because now he will have to trust his other receivers.
There are times watching Cam is frustrating, because he doesn’t appear to watch film. He misses too many throws, because he’s counting on his physical ability not his cerebral ability. Olsen has some great hands, and that is what Cam counts on. Now Cam’s security blanket is gone which means that Cam is going to have to spread it out to more of his receivers. Which has great potential to make Cam a more accurate passer. There are a lot of QBs in the NFL who go, “if I can put it right here than my receiver can get to it”, and that differs depending on receiver. Well Cam doesn’t really have that luxury with most of his receiving core. He is going to have to learn to throw it at them, and not in the area of them like he did with Olsen. This will be hugely beneficial to not just Cam, but everyone he throws to. If opposing teams start to look at Russell Shepard the same way they look at Kelvin Benjamin then everyone has an easier time getting open. If you look at the two teams who made it to the Super Bowl last season both had receiving cores that went five men deep.
This also isn’t the first time the Panthers have lost a top receiving target. Before the 2015 season started, Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL. Stephen A Smith even said before the season that he didn’t foresee the Panthers making the playoffs. All the Panthers did after that, was go 15-1, and make it to the super bowl. So this could be the thing that turns Cam back into his MVP self.
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