Neither the Saints nor the Panthers were at full strength in their two meetings this season. New Orleans played both games without cornerback Marshon Lattimore and left tackle Terron Armstead. Carolina played both games without tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, whose team was swept by the Saints this season, had a two-word answer when asked what it meant to have Olsen back.
“A lot,” Rivera said, via David Newton of ESPN.
In his past three games at New Orleans, Olsen has 25 catches for 295 yards and three touchdowns.
Olsen, who played in only seven games this season, made four catches for 37 yards the past two games combined. Quarterback Cam Newton targeted him nine times in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, but Olsen caught only one pass for 10 yards.
“I don’t make too much of one game,” Olsen said. “The reality is, over the last couple of years Cam and I have been more productive than any quarterback-tight end combo in the whole league. We know what we’re doing. We have a great feel for what each other wants. Sometimes you just have one of those days. We’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’ve been able to do, what we still can do. We haven’t forgotten how to play. We feel good moving forward.”
The Panthers feel good having Olsen in the lineup against the Saints.