Bears' Olsen expects quick return after spraining knee against Cleveland Print
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Monday, 03 September 2007 13:10
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 LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -Greg Olsen walked with a slight limp and a big sense of relief on Monday.
The Chicago Bears' rookie tight end stood on the sideline in a jersey and shorts with his cap on backward, looking carefree even though his sprained left knee was wrapped in a bandage. It was a big improvement from Thursday night, when he limped off the field late in the first half of the preseason finale against Cleveland.
``We're happy it wasn't anything too serious,'' Olsen said.
An MRI exam on Friday revealed no structural damage, and the first-round draft pick sounded like someone who anticipated a quick return. Although he wouldn't say how soon, he is seeing improvement each day. Olsen did not practice Monday, and coach Lovie Smith said he's a gametime decision for Sunday's season opener at San Diego.
That's not bad news for the defending NFC champions, considering what happened on Thursday.
Olsen caught a short pass from third-string quarterback Kyle Orton and banged his knee while being tackled by the Browns' Clifton Smith. Olsen walked off the field gingerly, then slammed a trainers table in disgust while being examined on the sideline.
The Bears, meanwhile, held their breath until they got the MRI results.
``I was more just frustrated,'' Olsen said. ``Thankfully, now we know it wasn't anything too serious that I can't come back from relatively quick.''
Chicago's offensive starters played just three downs against Cleveland, and most of the top players had been pulled by the time Olsen got hurt. He was still in the game because someone had to play, Smith said afterward. The coach also pointed out that Olsen's not a starter.
Olsen did, however, grab a prominent role in the preseason.
The Bears have plays designed for him. They plan to use two tight ends at times, with Olsen and Desmond Clark. And they see Olsen as a key figure in a more open offense.
``He had a great preseason,'' veteran receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. ``He's had a great camp. He's going to be exciting and fun to work with - if not this weekend, whatever weekend that may be. He's going to be a great player in this league.''
The Bears had not drafted a tight end in the first round since Mike Ditka in 1961 when they took Olsen with the 31st pick, and it didn't take him long to make an impression.
The 6-foot-5 Olsen brings size and speed and a pair of soft hands to an offense that has relied heavily on the run. And although the Bears aren't going to abandon the ground game, quarterback Rex Grossman has no shortage of targets.
Muhammad is coming off a solid season in which he finished with 863 yards. Deep threat Bernard Berrian enjoyed a breakout year, catching 51 passes for 775 yards, Mark Bradley is healthy and Devin Hester is now in the mix on offense.
At tight end, Clark finished with a career-high 626 yards and had six touchdowns last season. And now there's Olsen.
The son of a high school coach in New Jersey, Olsen grew up around the game and became a standout at Miami, Fla. - where tight ends seem to grow like oranges. Olsen did his part to live up to the standards set by Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, catching 87 passes for 1,215 yards in three seasons.
``He's been the perfect rookie learning the system, trying to fit in as a good football player,'' Smith said. ``He's a coach's kid. He knows the game. He's been around the game. He knows how you're supposed to prepare. He knows how to be the new kid on the block and learn from the veterans.''
A smooth preseason ended with a bump, and now, Olsen's status is uncertain.
``Thankfully, now we know it wasn't anything too serious that I can't come back from relatively quick,'' he said.

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