Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen traded in his trademark knit cap Tuesday for a baseball hat he had a thousand reasons to wear.
Olsen popped into the interview room at Wofford’s student center wearing a custom lid from New Era – one of his sponsors – featuring a “1” blended with a “K,” representing a 1,000-yard receiving season.
On the side were three marks, one for each of his three consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns – a feat never accomplished by a tight end until Olsen did it last season.
As he enters his seventh year with Carolina, Olsen is looking for another notch on his hat.
And given how he always figures out a way to play every Sunday, it’s probably not smart to bet against him.
I just feel like it’s the one individual statistic that kind of sums up the way I’ve always tried to approach my career.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, on a 1,000-yard receiving season
“I’m gonna try to do it again,” he said. “A lot goes into it. I just feel like it’s the one individual statistic that kind of sums up the way I’ve always tried to approach my career. Be productive, but be productive consistently. Be durable, play every game.”
Olsen, 32, has played in 158 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak among active tight ends behind Dallas’ Jason Witten (219). He’s started 80 consecutive games for the Panthers, the third-longest such streak in team history.
Olsen is as proud as the consecutive games and starts marks as his 1K streak.
“There’s a lot of guys that are productive for a four- or five-game stretch and then they have to sit a few out, come back. Or a guy has a great one year, fall off, then can you have a bounce back? I don’t ever want that to be me,” Olsen said. “That’s something I’ve always prided myself on. Not only can you be highly productive, but can you be highly productive continuously?”
Olsen’s history of durability and production prompted him to ask the front office for an extension and a raise this summer. He has two years left on his current contract, which will pay him $6.5 million over the next two seasons.
Though rookie Christian McCaffrey might mean fewer touches for Greg Olsen, the veteran tight end believes McCaffrey actually could create space for the other pass-catchers.
Olsen didn’t get a new deal, but he remains the mainstay among Cam Newton’s receiving options. That group added a dynamic playmaker in Christian McCaffrey, the former Stanford scatback who will line up all over for the Panthers.
Though McCaffrey might mean fewer touches for Olsen, the veteran tight end believes McCaffrey actually could create space for the other pass-catchers.
“He catches a few of those balls out the backfield and those (safeties and linebackers) have to come up and tackle him. Next time, they’re going to play a little closer and try to close some of that space in,” Olsen said. “Then it opens up things.”
If that happens and Olsen is able to reach his 1K goal a fourth consecutive season, New Era will have to make him another hat.
“That’d be a good problem to have,” Olsen said.