Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen had his fewest receiving yards in a game Sunday against the Jaguars since Carolina’s 2011 season finale.
His one-catch, 11-yard day Sunday is a far cry from his 1,008-yard season of 2014, when he went to the Pro Bowl. But he’s not sounding the alarm after Week 1.
Olsen had a touchdown negated because of a controversial penalty and another 13-yard catch wiped out because of a penalty, all while the Jaguars slid their safety down to help cover Olsen in zone defense.
“Sometimes you run good routes and things open up,”Olsen said Monday. “(Jerricho Cotchery) scored a touchdown on that. It’s all how the thing goes together. It’s no different than when I would catch 10 balls last year. We don’t set out to try and get one guy the ball. That’s not our offense. That’s not what we do.”
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This same story popped up last year when the Pro Bowl tight end had two games with just one catch.
We’ve got to make sure we move him around and get the ball to him. ... He’s a playmaker for us – and we’ll find ways to get him the ball.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, on tight end Greg Olsen
But even offensive coordinator Mike Shula, whose offense mustered just 13 points in the 20-9 victory, admitted the team has to look at Olsen more often in the passing game to be successful.
Carolina only had 175 passing yards in the game and didn’t break the 300-yard mark for total offense. That happened just twice last season.
“We’ve got to make sure we move him around and get the ball to him,” Shula said. “There were some other times that other guys had opportunities because they were favoring his side as well. We’ll definitely work on – he’s a playmaker for us – and we’ll find ways to get him the ball.”
Olsen’s 4-yard touchdown in the first quarter was called back when he was flagged for offensive pass interference. Olsen appeared to extend his arm just enough into the defender to draw the flag.
But both Olsen and head coach Ron Rivera disputed the call on Monday.
“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” Olsen said. “I think there was some contact. He bit on the fake. He tried to recover. I jumped up to catch the ball. That’s what I thought happened. Obviously they had a different perspective and that’s the only one that matters.
“I was just trying to break his grasp and just extend to go jump.”
Olsen’s other nullified catch from quarterback Cam Newton was a 13-yard grab across midfield that went away after center Ryan Kalil was ruled too far down the field despite more Panthers objections.
But the focus on Olsen isn’t a bad thing for the offense, Rivera said. Should teams continue to key in on the Pro Bowl tight end, someone else will be open.
“If they want to roll a safety down to that side, if they want to put two guys in close proximity,” Rivera said, “it should open up things for other guys.”