Panthers’ Olsen has another quiet game
For the second straight game, the Carolina Panthers used their Invisible Greg Olsen Trick. It worked to perfection.
A game after catching just one pass on three targets for 16 yards, Olsen had just three catches for 30 yards on four targets in the 28-10 loss to the Saints on Thursday Night Football.
Olsen entered the game with 509 receiving yards, which ranked third among all NFL tight ends behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Chicago’s Martellus Bennett. The eighth-year tight end led the Panthers in receiving in four games this season, but in the past two games he could hardly be spotted.
“Yeah. I mean, you know I don’t really know what to say,” Olsen said when asked if he was surprised by his lack of targets. “Go out there and try to run my routes and get open.
“Listen there’s a lot that goes into who gets the ball, when you get the ball. There’s a lot of moving parts. This is not one-on-one on air. There are a lot of moving parts that go into a completion and guys getting the ball. We’re not going to go down that road.”
Of his three targets Sunday against the Seahawks, one was a flip pass from a scrambling Cam Newton that was intercepted. It officially went down as a target, though those who have a higher respect for the game wouldn’t call it such.
The Seahawks were able to roll coverage to Olsen with a safety, and it was unclear what the Saints were able to do to neutralize Olsen.
Through seven games this season, Olsen seemed destined for his first Pro Bowl of his career. Now, he’s on an under-the-water team that’s ignoring its most reliable pass catcher.
DeCoud sits : Had the game been Sunday, safety Thomas DeCoud likely would have suited up to play. But on a short week with a hamstring injury, the Panthers’ starting free safety was inactive.
DeCoud hurt his hamstring on a deep pass in the second half of Sunday’sloss to Seattle. He sat out of practice Tuesday and was limited Wednesday. Rookie Tre Boston started in his place and played well a four days after giving up the winning touchdown to Seattle tight end Luke Willson.
The other six inactive players: Cornerback Bené Benwikere, guard Amini Silatolu, guard Trai Turner, receiver/returner Philly Brown, tackle Byron Bell and running back Fozzy Whittaker.
Cason, Boston benched : Starting cornerback Antoine Cason and safety Boston were the latest Panthers defensive backs to get benched.
Melvin White played opposite Josh Norman after Cason’s less-than-stellar first half. Cason was picked consistently on for short passes by Drew Brees, and he was called for pass interference in the end zone at the end of the first half that put the Saints in position to get their second touchdown.
White was benched when he gave up a touchdown to Baltimore’s Steve Smith during Week 4. His spot eventually was taken by Norman once he returned from a concussion last weekend against the Seahawks.
Boston left the game in the second half, replaced by Robert Lester. Boston allowed a deep Jimmy Graham completion and was promptly substituted.
• The crowd in the upper level left much to be desired. There were plenty of splotches of empty seats before the game, at the start and during the first quarter.
• Nickel cornerback Colin Jones made a nice sack on Brees after getting blocked by running back Mark Ingram. Jones flipped in the air to the ground, got up and sacked Brees for a loss of 6 yards.
• The Panthers wore black jerseys but went with silver pants instead of black for the night game. Carolina has just one win all-time in all-black uniforms.
• A late-developing screen the Panthers got so used to against Seattle didn’t appear Thursday night until the second half. DeAngelo Williams picked up 30 yards on the play.
• Even when Newton had a clean pocket, which happened more often Thursday than it did Sunday against Seattle, he still didn’t seem comfortable.
• Newton’s first interception came on a tipped pass. The interception really should be credited to Brenton Bersin, whose hands the ball went right through, rather than Newton.
By the numbers
30 Career rushing touchdowns for Newton, who tied Roman Gabriel for 15th-most by a quarterback.
10 Completions, in 28 attempts, for Newton, his worst percentage as a pro.
46 Rushing yards for Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, keeping Newton from being the leading rusher by 3 yards.
7 Catches, on seven targets, for New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 83 receiving yards and a touchdown.