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Former Bears tight end Greg Olsen happy with Panthers

The Panthers’ Greg Olsen is pace for career high receiving yards this season. | Getty Images

The Panthers’ Greg Olsen is on pace for a career high in receiving yards this season. | Getty Images

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Updated: December 6, 2012 6:08PM



Greg and Kara Olsen didn’t want to leave Chicago.

‘‘When we got traded,’’ Olsen said, ‘‘we thought the world was coming to an end.’’

A first-round draft pick in 2007, Olsen established himself as a more-than-capable pass-catching tight end for the Bears. His best season came in 2009, when he had 60 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns.

But he was traded to the Carolina Panthers after the 2010 season for a third-round pick.

While that pick helped the Bears land receiver Brandon Marshall in a trade last offseason, the deal hardly been a slam-dunk success for the organization.

The two men most responsible for Olsen’s departure — offensive coordinator Mike Martz and general manager Jerry Angelo — are no longer here.

Martz favored using his tight ends as blockers, which is why he pushed for the signing of Brandon Manumaleuna to a five-year, $15 million contract. Manumaleuna was a colossal bust for the Bears.

As for Olsen, Angelo elected to get something for him because he realized he didn’t want to sign him to a lucrative extension.

The thinking was sound, except that Kellen Davis hasn’t filled the void left by Olsen’s departure and that the Bears’ most consistent and dependable tight end right now is Matt Spaeth.

And, naturally, the Bears replaced Martz with Mike Tice, a former tight end who has a history of leaning on that position in a variety of ways.

The Bears re-signed Davis to a two-year, $6 million contract during the offseason, but he’s fifth on the team with nine catches for 132 yards. His lone touchdown was a meaningless one against the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears invested a fourth-round pick in Evan Rodriguez, who flashed some talent before suffering a knee injury. But it’s hard to imagine the Bears not making the position more of an emphasis next offseason, either in free agency or in the draft.

So what about Olsen? He said he is thrilled to be in Charlotte with the Panthers.

‘‘I’m very happy here, and I wouldn’t trade anything that’s happened,’’ said Olsen, who is in the second year of a five-year deal worth $24.7 million. ‘‘It’s a great group of guys. Chicago was, too, but we got a lot of people here we’re on the same page with. The only thing that hasn’t gone our way is we haven’t won enough games.’’

Olsen, though, is thankful to many in the organization and in the community for the support they’ve provided him and Kara as they deal with the heart defect of their newborn son, T.J.

‘‘Those kind of things go beyond football and catches and yards,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s remarkable what they’ve done for us.’’

While the Panthers are struggling, Olsen is on pace for a career high in receiving yards. But his approach hasn’t changed.

‘‘I can’t say I tried harder or anything like that,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve put in the same work.’’

Jensen’s notebook

Tillman numbers

Charles Tillman has been putting up eyeopening numbers, according to STATS.

Opposing quarterbacks have completed 19 of 30 passes for 202 yards with no touchdowns against him. Tillman also has defended four passes and intercepted two, both of which he returned for touchdowns.

In addition, he has three forced fumbles, good for third in the league.

By the way, his 202 receiving yards allowed put him among the league leaders.

In brief

Brandon Marshall hosted a bowling event last week at Lucky Strike for his nonprofit organization, Project Borderline. Marshall said he started bowling as a senior at Central Florida.

‘‘I’m getting better and better every year,’’ he said.

So what’s his average?

Around 170.

Not too shabby.



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