Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowl selection at center, said Thursday he will play even though coach Ron Rivera cautiously said, “We’ll see.”
“I’ll be suiting up and snapping the ball on Sunday,” said Kalil, sidelined 10 of the past 11 games with a neck injury that flared up after the opener.
Kalil attempted to make a comeback in an Oct. 22 game at Chicago, but aggravated the injury in the first half and didn’t play in the second half. He has been inactive for four of the past five games, not playing in the one game he suited up.
Tyler Larsen has started for Kalil, but has not practiced the past two days because of a foot injury. He had a walking boot on earlier in the week.
Kalil was listed as limited on Thursday, but he worked with the first-team offense during the media portion of practice.
“He’s had a good couple of days,” Rivera said. “Real encouraged by it. I know he’s encouraged by it. He looks good out there. We’ll continue with it.”
Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection at tight end, was activated off injured reserve for a Nov. 26 game against the New York Jets. He developed soreness in the foot, surgically repaired after he broke it in a Week 2 win against Buffalo, and did not play in the second half against the Jets or in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.
The staff took a cautious approach on Sunday, feeling the artificial turf at MetLife Stadium contributed to the soreness and there was no point in aggravating it further on the turf at New Orleans.
The next three games are on grass at home.
“From the beginning we knew this was going to be a little bit of a struggle, kind of a touch and go thing as we transitioned our way back,” Olsen said. “Yeah, I feel good. I feel we’re heading down a good path. I’m looking forward to getting out there and hopefully this time stay out there.”
The return of both players comes at a good time for the Panthers (8-4), a game behind New Orleans (9-3) in the NFC South and two games behind Minnesota (10-2) and Philadelphia (10-2) for the top two seeds in the NFC.
They also could bring a spark to an offense that has been inconsistent the past two weeks.
“This is a huge stretch for us,” Olsen said. “One of the best teams we’ll play coming here on Sunday.”