Carolina Panthers

Whether he gets a contract extension or not, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has a plan

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen cools off with a snow cone after the Panthers' joint practice with the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday. Olsen had one of the day’s biggest plays with a catch of a tipped pass.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen cools off with a snow cone after the Panthers' joint practice with the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday. Olsen had one of the day’s biggest plays with a catch of a tipped pass. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

With Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis locked up through 2018, the next order of business for new/old general manager Marty Hurney would appear to be tight end Greg Olsen.

Or maybe not.

While Davis was entering a contract year before signing a one-year extension Tuesday, Olsen has two years left on his deal. And while Hurney has talked with Olsen and his agent Drew Rosenhaus since taking over as interim GM last month, it appears nothing is imminent, according to league sources.

“I haven’t talked to Marty about it or anybody about it,” Olsen said Wednesday after the first of two joint practices with the Tennessee Titans. “ If something gets done, great.

“But we’ve got a lot going on now with training camp and preseason and whatnot. So it hasn’t been really something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

“But we’ll see over these next couple of weeks what happens.”

Olsen, 32, had sweat dripping off his beard while he spoke to a reporter after the two-hour practice in humid conditions.

Olsen, entering his 11th season, said he appreciated the way the Tennessee defensive players approached the practice. No one took any cheap shots and there were a lot of instances of guys helping up players from the other team.

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Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) talks with offensive coordinator Mike Shula on Wednesday. Olsen has asked for a contract extension, but a source said Wednesday that nothing is imminent. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Likewise, Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien said he gained a new level of respect for Olsen after watching how Olsen worked.

“Today in our drills, him going from blocking to 1-on-1s and going into team, he goes 100 percent. That’s one thing I could see in his work ethic,” Cyprien said. “And that’s probably why he’s been such a good player his entire career.”

Olsen last year became the first tight end in NFL history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. And while he’s not the best blocking tight end, he does it well enough to stay on the field.

Olsen takes pride in not taking plays off.

He has started 80 consecutive games for the Panthers, the third-longest streak in team history and second-longest among active tight ends behind Dallas’ Jason Witten (163).

A good example

Panthers coach Ron Rivera says Olsen and the team’s other older players set a good example by participating in all the drills rather than begging out.

“It’s good for the young guys to see the older guys get those opportunities to get on the practice field and work – and work against a good football team,” Rivera said. “And I think it’s going to help us in the long run.”

Olsen’s practice Wednesday was pretty typical. He caught a couple of passes in 1-on-1s, tried unsuccessfully to make a one-handed grab on a ball thrown behind him and had one of the biggest plays during 11-on-11s on a tipped Derek Anderson pass.

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Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) heads upfield after a reception during a joint practice with the Tennessee Titans at St. Thomas Sports Park in Nashville on Wednesday. Olsen said later his goal is to produce, new contract or not. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Cyprien, in man coverage vs. Olsen on the third-down play, got his hand on the ball. But Olsen was able to come up with the carom as he fell to the ground for a long gain.

“I kind of free-styled a little bit on the route and D.A. saw it and put the ball out there. We both went up to get it initially and it kind of bounced up off both of us and I was able to get it on the rebound,” Olsen said.

“Those are big plays in games. You get big chunks like that. It would have been nice if we’d been able to finish that drive. We kicked a field goal. But those move-the-ball scenarios are good to learn from.”

The Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans hold the first of two joint practices in Nashville on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.

Deserving of a deal

Olsen said he was “so happy” about the Davis extension that should allow the 34-year-old to finish his career in Charlotte.

“Obviously he deserves it,” Olsen said. “He’s been everything the Panthers have stood for for a long time now.”

Olsen has carved out his own place in the organization since Hurney acquired him from Chicago for a third-round pick in 2011 in the best trade in franchise history. Whether or not he receives an extension this year, Olsen says his focus is the same.’

Jourdan Rodrigue gives her observations on the Panthers defense during the first of two joint practices with the Tennessee Titans Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville.

“The goal is to go out and be highly productive, be consistent and that’s been my approach,” he said. “And that will never change.”

As for the rest of the week, Olsen won’t be able to hang out with Kings of Leon, the Nashville-based rockers whom he’s befriended. The band is on tour, with a stop Wednesday in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Nor is Olsen planning to hit the Nashville honky tonks to listen to any live music.

“I’ve been there many nights,” he said, smiling. “I don’t need to go there now.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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