Oct/16/12 08:26 AM Filed in: Greg Olsen
Timing and teammates have helped Panthers tight end Greg Olsen through his newborn son’s first few days.
Olsen spent four days and nights at the hospital last week watching over his son, who was born with a heart defect that required surgery.
“It’s been a hard week but it’s been a good week. We’re fortunate for the care that he’s been able to get,” Olsen said. “He’s responded really well to the multiple procedures that they’ve done. We’re very fortunate and very blessed that he responded the way he did. The doctors and everyone have been incredible here at Levine (Children’s Hospital).”
Olsen’s wife, Kara, delivered twins on Tuesday, and TJ had his first surgery on Thursday. Olsen was able to get his mind off football for a week during the Panthers’ bye.
“I hadn’t put much thought into the game this last week or so,” he said. “And it really worked out well that it was the bye. It would have been tough yesterday having a game to prepare for all week, but I didn’t have to worry about that. It was nice to come in here today and run around and get into the swing of things.”
Several teammates, coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and owner Jerry Richardson have visited the Olsens. Olsen said the outpouring from the community has been incredible – from emails to letters at his home to even a food drive.
Wide receiver Steve Smith and his wife organized the players and their significant others to supply meals for the Olsens.
“It really is a special community,” Olsen said. “I’ve said it since the day I got here. ... In these bad times it really shows, but I knew it beforehand. This is a special group of people around here. It’s a really well-run organization. Right now we’re benefitting from it but it will be someone else some other time.”
Still evaluating: Rivera said it will be later in the week before decisions are made regarding who will start at middle linebacker and right guard against Dallas on Sunday.
Rookie Luke Kuechly started in place of Jon Beason (knee) against Seattle and said he worked at middle and weakside linebacker Monday.
Rivera said earlier this season he preferred to keep Kuechly on the outside, but he was forced to adjust when Beason was unable to play against the Seahawks.
“The approach is you’ve got to see who is doing what and put them in the best position,” Rivera said. “Again, we just have to evaluate our players, evaluate what we do and how things fit.”
Geoff Hangartner is expected to replace Ryan Kalil at center, opening the starting right guard position to Jeff Byers or Garry Williams.
The Panthers added free agent Thomas Austin last week after Kalil’s season-ending injury was discovered.
Austin, undrafted out of Clemson, signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. He played three games with Houston in 2011 and most recently was with New England before being cut Oct. 2.
“He’s a veteran guy who’s played in this league. You try to find those kind of guys who are out there,” Rivera said. “He happened to be coming off an injury and we were able to sign him.”
Cowboy watch: ESPN reported Monday that Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray suffered a ligament injury to his foot but it is not season-threatening. Murray leads the Cowboys with 330 rushing yards and also has 17 receptions for 118 yards.
Rivera said the Panthers are planning to face Murray.