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Panthers anxious to have Olsen and Kalil back
The Carolina Panthers are riding a three-game winning streak and they're coming off the bye week in the schedule.
And now things could be getting even better for the second-place team in the NFC South.
The Panthers go into Sunday's road game against the New York Jets with a couple of veterans likely ready to return to action.
Tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil have been at practice this week and they are on target to play again.
"I think it will be a very big boost, especially what they do on the offensive side of the ball," head coach Ron Rivera said.
The Panthers have a 7-3 record, already eclipsing the victory total from last year's 6-10 team. This figures to be a key week for Carolina because the Jets are one of only two remaining opponents currently possessing a losing record.
"I think things are lining up for us, but we still have to do something with it," said Olsen, who figures to be ready to return to action this weekend after missing a couple of months with a broken foot.
With the likelihood that Olsen is back on the field, the Panthers don't want to dismiss what tight end Ed Dickson has shown. At times, he was a standout while he was serving as a starter.
"Now you have guys with different skill sets and you can use different parts," Rivera said.
The rushing attack started clicking to various degrees the past couple of games. That's something that can be attributed to the offensive line providing the holes.
"Ultimately, it's just guys making plays," running back Jonathan Stewart said. "Everyone is contributing to being physical up front."
The Panthers have rushed for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history.
This coincides well with the strong play provided by quarterback Cam Newton, who has contributed to the rushing attack and seems back on track in the passing attack despite some moving parts in terms of his receiving targets.
Newton said he has been comfortable in how the offense has executed.
"For us, (it's important) coming out each and every play and having that mentality that we want to maximize each and every opportunity that we get," Newton said. "There are just certain things that we're capable of."
With all the discussion regarding the offense, it's worth noting that the Panthers have the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL. The Jets rank 25th on offense, so this might be where the Panthers hold the biggest advantage.
SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 3-3. This will be the first meeting since 2013.