The Carolina Panthers placed Greg Olsen on injured reserve on Tuesday, a day after the All-Pro tight end underwent surgery to repair his broken foot.
Olsen will miss at least the next eight games, and can return to practice in six weeks.
Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said Olsen has a “Jones fracture” in his right foot and had a screw inserted to repair the fracture. However, he did not provide a timetable for Olsen’s return.
“The only thing that he has to do now is heal,” Vermillion said. “I know Greg will be around and he’ll be involved. He’s a team guy. He’ll try to do everything he can to help this team continue to win.”
The Panthers promoted rookie fullback Alex Armah from their practice squad to fill Olsen’s roster spot, and then filled Armah’s place on the practice squad with wide receiver Keyarris Garrett.
Olsen, who has not missed a game since his rookie season, suffered the injury during the first half of Sunday’s 9-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past three seasons while eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards in each of those campaigns.
Veteran Ed Dickson is Olsen’s primary backup, with Chris Manhertz the only other tight end on the roster. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey could fill the “security blanket” role in coordinator Mike Shula’s offense.
“It’s tough to lose a player like Greg Olsen, but next man up,” Dickson said after Sunday’s game, per the Charlotte Observer. “I’m pretty sure they’re gonna add a little depth, but there’s no replacing a guy like Greg Olsen. I’m gonna say that for probably the fourth time.
“There’s no replacing a guy like that, but I’m up for the challenge. I relish the challenge.”
McCaffrey leads the Panthers (2-0) with nine receptions this season. Olsen has three for 28 yards. Carolina produced just 178 passing yards against Buffalo and 77 on the ground.
Dickson had two catches for 26 yards on Sunday, but the eight-year veteran has not posted more than 275 yards in a season since setting career highs with 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns in his second season in the league in 2011 with Baltimore. He has recorded 115, 121 and 134 receiving yards in his first three seasons with the Panthers.
“I have full faith in Ed,” quarterback Cam Newton said. “Ed (Dickson) is ready to blossom. He’s a diamond in the rough.
“I don’t want to put too much on Ed, but … we are going to be expecting big things for him and knowing he’s going to pick the gun up and keep shooting.”