With eye on son's recovery, Olsen rejoins Panthers practice - | WBTV Charlotte

With eye on son's recovery, Olsen rejoins Panthers practice

Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers is shown with is wife and his son, T.J., who underwent open-heart surgery in August. Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers is shown with is wife and his son, T.J., who underwent open-heart surgery in August.
CHARLOTTE, NC (The Charlotte Observer) -

It's a routine Greg Olsen is unfortunately too familiar with.

Olsen, the Panthers' starting tight end, goes to the team facilities for four or five hours, including a two-hour practice, and then returns to Levine Children's Hospital where his son, T.J., is recovering from heart surgery.

"It's another week or so juggle being here and (at) the hospital," said Olsen, who practiced Monday for the first time since Aug. 24. "We've done it before and unfortunately we're experts. It's been a week now. They told us from the beginning it may be up to three weeks."

Olsen said T.J. is on track in his recovery, and though the week after T.J.'s third and final scheduled open-heart surgery has been "a bit of a roller coaster," it's mostly been "pretty positive."

T.J. remains in the intensive care unit recovering from last week's surgery. He was born in 2012 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.

When the Olsen family planned the surgeries, they knew they couldn't wait until after the season or even the Week 12 bye.

Olsen wasn't going to leave his family, and he didn't want to let his team down. So the week leading up to the final exhibition against Pittsburgh lent itself to an opportune time for the surgery.

"When I spoke with coach (Ron) Rivera and (general manager) Mr. (Dave) Gettleman that this was the plan the doctors wanted, we had the luxury of trying to pick a week that, even though I knew I was going to have to miss time, try to miss time that in the grand purpose wasn't too big of a deal to miss," Olsen said. "The team was very understanding of me stepping away for a week, and obviously it was important for me to be by my son.

"There was no magic answer. They didn't say be back by a certain date. I just felt like things were pretty steady at the hospital for me to step away for four or five hours today and just head back there after."

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