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Panthers' Greg Olsen 'Gifted' Target In Pass Game

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Now in his fifth season with the Panthers, Greg Olsen continues to be the top weapon for Cam Newton, as the tight end is well on his way to another 1,000-yard season.

The Washington Redskins made it clear this week that Greg Olsen is a player they must keep a watch on throughout Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Defenders say Olsen matches the physicality of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski with the route-running ability of Jordan Reed.

"He is definitely a No. 1 target," linebacker Perry Riley Jr. said. "He's Cam [Newton's] safety valve. He's the easiest throw just his position he is in the middle of the field. There's definitely an importance of stopping him or slowing him down. Taking away Cam's first read making him actually survey the whole field."

Olsen picked up right where his career year left off last season, as he's already recorded 45 receptions for 664 yards and five touchdowns in the Panthers' first nine games.

His 45 receptions are 20 more than anyone else on the team.

Safety Jeron Johnson, who made his first start of the season last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, believes communication will be crucial for the Redskins against Olsen.

"You've got to know where your help is," Johnson said. "Play proper leverage on him, whatever the call is. You just have to play proper techniques. Trust in yourself and believe. He's a good tight end, one of the best in the game right now. He's one of Cam's favorite targets. We just have to try to limit his production."

One possible way of slowing down Olsen is by jamming him at the line of scrimmage.

Whether that be Bashaud Breeland, a cornerback who is among the most physical at first step, or someone else, Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said it could help the defense "get our hands on No. 88."

A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers.

"That's always the thing that defenses have to fight when dealing with a tight end and the common sense thing is, 'Just get your hands on him, jam him, re-route him,'" Barry said. "If you do that with a defensive end or an outside linebacker, you take away from their pass rush. So it's always a fine line that you have to work through. There's no doubt he demands attention. He has to be hit. He has to be knocked. Because, again, when he's able to run free release vertical routes, which is what he does, he's tore everyone up that they've played against."

When asked about Olsen, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was open about his overall game.

He's a big target who can "snatch it" anywhere within his catching radius, and, as he's proven over the course of his career, Olsen has few holes in his game.

"He's just a good target, man," Gruden said. "He's got a great knowledge of how to run routes. He's very disciplined in his routes, his depths, how to set people up. He runs the corners, he runs the corner post, he runs the seams, he runs the stick routes, he runs the flat routes, he runs shallow cross, he runs the basics. His route tree is phenomenal and he's very gifted."

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