Olsen: Panthers' focus not on return to Super Bowl right now
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen knows the NFC champion Carolina Panthers are making a huge mistake if they assume they're getting back to the Super Bowl next season.
History hasn't been kind to Super Bowl losers.
It has been 23 years since the team that fell short in the Super Bowl has returned to play for the championship the following season - the Buffalo Bills in 1993.
The Panthers lost 24-10 to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in February.
''The second you think you've arrived, the second you think you've got it - you're done,'' Olsen said Monday. ''... We're not going to just show up on the field Week 1 and just say, `Hey, we're the defending NFC champs. We have the best record in the league. Let's go.' That's not how it goes. Overconfidence and thinking you've arrived has ruined a lot of careers in the NFL.''
Olsen said that is why the team's focus isn't remotely on the Super Bowl - or even the team's rematch against the Broncos in the regular season opener - as workouts officially commenced at the team's downtown Charlotte stadium.
''If that's our focus all offseason and that's the only thing we look at, we're going to miss all the steps that it took last year to make that possible,'' Olsen said. ''The biggest thing guys have to understand in this league is you don't just pick up where you left off. We don't just assume we are going to play Week 1 like we did Week 16 last year - it's just not how it works. There was a lot of work that went in before we even hit the field in Spartanburg (for training camp) last year.''
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who said he's never gone back and watched the team's Super Bowl loss, believes the Panthers are in great shape moving forward.
But also had words of caution.
''I really think the sky's the limit, but none of that matters if we don't go out and put the work in like we did last year,'' said Davis, who has yet to watch a replay of the Super Bowl. ''So we've got to start from ground zero and just understand that it's not going to just happen for us. We have to go out and make it happen.''
Carolina will return the vast majority of its core players, with the exception of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman. He recently signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins after Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman rescinded the team's franchise tag offer.
And Kelvin Benjamin, the team's top wide receiver in 2013, said Monday he plans to be full speed by training camp, giving the team's No. 1-ranked offense another big boost.
But Olsen said all of that doesn't matter right now.
When he came into the NFL as a rookie with Chicago in 2007, the Bears were coming off a Super Bowl loss to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The future appeared bright in Chicago, but things simply didn't turn out that way.
The Bears failed to make the playoffs the following season.
''I was drafted and came in thinking, `Oh, this is going to be great. We're just going to find ourselves back in the same position. Why not? Same quarterback, same defense, same everything,''' Olsen said. ''.... You're not entitled in anything in this game. It's not, `The Panthers had a great year last year; let's just pencil them in.' That's not how the game works. That's what makes it challenging.''
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