Panthers' Ian Thomas: Expected to replace Olsen
Chris Manhertz also lingers as an experienced reserve option at tight end, and the Panthers will most likely add depth to the position group via signing or trade, but Thomas, a rookie fourth-round pick from Indiana, should get the first crack at replacing Olsen thanks to the upside he offers as a pass catcher. Though the 22-year-old was considered raw heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, he offers quality athleticism at the position and already drew a couple looks from quarterback Cam Newton in the season-opening win over the Cowboys, corralling both of his targets and gaining four yards. Head coach Ron Rivera seemed confident Monday in Thomas' ability to fill in for Olsen, stating that the rookie "has been prepared for this moment" while praising his development as a blocker and route runner, according to Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer.
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