TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — If the Carolina Panthers are going to pull out of a frustrating tailspin, they’ll have to do it without three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen.
Olsen re-injured his right foot during Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the latest blow to the 33-year-old’s bid to return to form after having surgery to repair the same foot last season.
“I ruptured my plantar fascia. The plantar fascia on the bottom of my foot popped. It’s just something we’ve dealt with since I’ve come back,” said Olsen, who limped off the field early in the second quarter.
“Since I’ve come back, I’ve dealt with a variety of pain and whatever in my foot. … Today, that plantar just finally had enough,” Olsen added. “It kind of just ruptured on me. … That first play of the second quarter, I just came out of my stance and I just knew right away what happened. It popped pretty good on me.”
It’s Olsen’s third injury to same foot. He missed nine games last season with a broken foot and had surgery but returned to play.
Then, he re-broke it this year, did not have surgery and came back quickly. Now, it appears his season is over.
“It’s just been obviously a very frustrating two seasons now,” said Olsen, who had one catch for 13 yards against the Bucs.
“It was actually getting pretty good as far as the bone was concerned. I developed some soft-tissue stuff over the course of the last six or seven weeks and dealt with it, and tried to keep it at bay as best we could,” the tight end added. “It’s just kind of one of those things that it’s just a matter of time. … It just kind of had enough.”
Coach Ron Rivera called Olson’s injury “tough” but did not speculate about the outlook for the 12th-year pro.
“We’ll see,” Rivera said. “Again, we’ll let the doctors determine that situation for us.”
Olsen didn’t want to look ahead, either.
“It’s tough. I think we’ve gotten about as much as we could’ve ever asked out of this foot in its current state,” Olsen said. “To go 10 years and not really have anything and then one little injury now will stall me for a good part of two seasons is frustrating. I can still play at a high level. It just hasn’t been in the plans right now.”
Sunday’s loss was Carolina’s fourth straight following a 6-2 start.
Olsen, who has 27 receptions for 291 yards and four touchdowns, said he doesn’t know what’s holding the team back.
“I’m probably not the guy to ask right now,” said Olsen, who missed three games earlier this season because of his foot.
Rivera said there’s only one way to get back on track: win.
“At the end of the day, you give yourself a chance and fight to the very end. You can look at it, the last few games we have played have come down to the last opportunities we had had, whether it be on offense or defense,” Rivera said.
“You just have to make a play. That is unfortunately something we haven’t been able to do right now,” the coach added. “We have not been able to make a play when it matters.”
The Panthers haven’t won since beating Tampa Bay 42-28 on Nov. 4.
Cam Newton conceded that after winning six of eight to begin the season, he never would have imagined the Panthers sitting at .500 a month later.
“But, hey, we put ourselves in this situation,” Newton said, “and we have to get ourselves out.”
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