Panthers to get 'big boost' with return of Pro Bowlers Greg Olsen, Ryan Kalil

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers could get what coach Ron Rivera called a “very big boost" offensively if Pro Bowlers Greg Olsen and Ryan Kalil return for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets.

Olsen’s return appears to be a formality. The team on Monday filed the necessary paperwork with the league to get the tight end active for the 1 p.m. game at the Meadowlands.

Monday was Olsen’s first official practice since suffering a broken foot in the second quarter of a Week 2 victory over Buffalo. Afterward he said the plan remains for him to play against the Jets.

Kalil, who has played less than a half since suffering a neck injury the week before the second game, is hopeful he can play Sunday. He said the neck felt “the best it’s felt all season" but added that a decision won’t come until later in the week.

Rivera was more cautious on whether Kalil would be ready for New York.

“There’s a bunch of other things that have to go into the process as far as Ryan is concerned," he said. “We’ll see how that is, but it was encouraging to see him out there, and he worked very well."

Kalil conceded it’s been frustrating dealing with the neck injury, adding he was grateful the organization allowed him to stay active while he rehabbed.

“I look forward to getting back out on Wednesday and see how it feels," he said.

Olsen will return to a group coming off its best performance of the season in a 45-21 victory against Miami. The three-time Pro Bowl selection experienced no pain in the foot on Monday, but he was anxious to get back on the practice field to the point that he woke up earlier than normal.

“You just want to remember how to do this," Olsen said. “You take a lot of things for granted sometimes that you’re going to pick up where you left off. But there is a little bit of a learning curve when you’ve been out for a while.

“I would love to pick back up where I left off and play every snap and catch 10 balls. And maybe that happens. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to happen."

The Panthers also turned in the paperwork to get wide receiver Damiere Byrd (broken arm) back on the practice field. Byrd isn’t eligible to play until a Dec. 3 game at New Orleans (8-2), the team Carolina (7-3) is chasing in the NFC South.

Byrd’s speed would be an asset with the loss of second-round pick Curtis Samuel for the season because of an ankle injury.

“We’ve kind of come together the last two weeks as an offense," Rivera said. “There are a lot of positive signs. We’re a completely different team than we were three, four, five, six weeks ago.

“Being able to add Greg back to the mix, and when Ryan is ready to roll, that helps us, as well. Who knows, maybe in another week or so we’ll have Damiere Byrd up with more speed on the outside. There’s a lot of good things that can come for us as far as the roster is concerned."