Greg Olsen confirmed after the game that the Pro Bowl tight end has reinjured the same foot that has cost him 13 games over the past two seasons; his day was over after he limped to the sidelines and was carted to the locker room during the Panthers third drive of their Week 13 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Since I’ve come back, I’ve dealt with a variety of pain and whatever in my foot and just stemming from the compensation or just the trauma that it’s been through with the surgery and whatnot,” said Olsen as he stood in the locker room on crutches and with a boot on his right foot. “Today, that plantar just finally had enough – it kind of just ruptured on me. It’s been sore and I’ve been able to kind of manage it since I’ve come back.”
“I just came out of my stance and I just knew right away what happened – it popped pretty good on me.”
Olsen originally fractured the fifth metatarsal in his foot during the Panthers second game of the 2017 season, missing eight games before returning for five of the final six games of the season; Olsen had surgery to repair the break and was expected to be fully healthy coming into the 2018 season before rebreaking the same bone just a few plays into the 2018 season.
Declining to have surgery, Olsen returned to the Panthers lineup after 35 days and had played his normal complement of snaps since, registering 24 catches for 245 yards to go along with four touchdowns in the seven games since his return.
“To go ten years and not really have anything and then one little injury not will stall me for a good part of two seasons is frustrating – I can still play at a high level.”
Olsen suffered the injury early in the second quarter, pulling up in pain without making contact – Olsen barely made it to the sidelines before collapsing to the ground. Olsen had one catch for 13 yards before leaving and was replaced by fourth-round pick Ian Thomas.
“It’s tough,” said backup tight end Chris Manhertz, who said he’s extremely grateful for his time over the past three seasons with Olsen. “It’s very disheartening to see him go down like that – but at the same time, it gives guys like Ian, who did a great job today filling in, and myself an opportunity to fill in and fill that void.”
Thomas, who the Panthers selected with the first pick of the fourth round, finished with five catches for 46 yards.
The 33-year old Olsen, who signed a contract extension through 2020 before the season began, had played in all 16 games for five straight seasons and had over 1,000 yards receiving in three of those, before suffering the injury in 2017.
Olsen was noncommittal when asked whether this injury might end his career.
“I try not to make rash decisions in tough times,” Olsen said. “I feel like it’s always easy to kind of jump to decisions when you’re feeling down and frustrated and whatnot. I’ve got to get this foot put back together a little bit. It’s been a long time since my foot has been normal.”
“This NFL stuff is hard. It humbles you very quickly.”