Greg Olsen's infant son takes next step

CHARLOTTE - Initially, tight end Greg Olsenicon-article-link thought his infant son might be in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery when the Panthers' mandatory veteran minicamp kicked off Tuesday.

But when a long day for the players came to a close, Olsen was able to go home rather than to the hospital to spend some time with TJ and his two other children.

"He's doing well," Olsen said. "It's one of the fastest recoveries that they've seen."

TJ returned home last Thursday, just four days after the second of three surgeries designed to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. TJ underwent the first procedure shortly after his birth in October and will undergo the final one around the age of 3.

"He went in to get a heart catheter (on May 30), which is a preemptive thing for the surgery, and then while he was in the hospital with the way things went they decided to just go ahead and do the surgery," Olsen explained. "They ended up moving it up a week. He had it last Saturday (June 1); he came home Wednesday."

While the third and final procedure will mark a milestone, the long-term future is still uncertain because children simply didn't survive the condition three decades ago.

"The unfortunate aspect of it is that the oldest living kids that have survived these surgeries are only now getting into their 30s, so the long, long-term prognosis is a little unclear," Olsen said. "But there are a lot of kids out there now in their 20s or 30s without a transplant, so that aspect of it is positive. And long, long term, hopefully by then more stuff will be developed."

With TJ well on his way to recovery, it was a little easier for Olsen to concentrate on the task at hand, namely finishing off the offseason training program as strong as the Panthers started it.

It's all in hopes of having a strong start to the season.

"The last couple of weeks of OTAs have been really good. I know every year people are going to say that – no one ever comes out here and says that we suck – but I really do believe we've taken a lot of strides," Olsen said. "We've made some minor adjustments with Coach (Mike) Shula now being the offensive coordinator. We've transitioned to doing things his way, and guys have really responded to that.

"We've added some pieces to the puzzle that are going to help us on both sides, but no one wins championships this time of year. You've got to put in the work now, but it only really matters when you start playing. We need to find out why we've started the last couple of years poorly and correct that because the Week 12 runs aren't cutting it."

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