Panthers TE on Walker: "He deserved that Pro Bowl spot"


SAN FRANCISCO —Panthers tight end Greg Olsen knew all about Delanie Walker long before the Titans tight end took his spot on the Pro Bowl roster.

Olsen's tight ends coach with the Panthers, Pete Hoener, was Walker's tight ends coach with the 49ers when he entered the NFL in 2006.

"I have learned a lot about Delanie from talking to Pete,'' Olsen said. "I have been a fan of Delanie's since he played in San Francisco. I know when he was there he had to kind of play the two tight end spot with Vernon (Davis), but I've always thought he was a tremendous talent. I've always liked his game."

When the Panthers won the NFC Championship Game and advanced to play in Super Bowl 50, Walker took Olsen's spot on the Pro Bowl roster in Hawaii. Walker had three catches for 80 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown, in the all-star game on Sunday.

The performance came following a season when Walker led the Titans and all NFL tight ends with a career-high 94 receptions. Walker had 1,088 receiving yards, with six touchdowns during a season when he set franchise records for tight ends in catches and receiving yards.

Titans TE Delanie Walker and DL Jurrell Casey compete at the 2016 Pro Bowl. (Photos: AP, NFL, Dwight Spradlin)

"I am happy for the year that Delanie had there,'' said Olsen, who's had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Panthers. "I know (his year) kind of lost in the shuffle, the team success had a lot to do with that. But he deserved that Pro Bowl spot and I am glad he had a chance to go play. From a talent standpoint and a physical standpoint, he is pretty dynamic."

Walker, a 10-year pro, became just the ninth tight end in NFL history to record 90 catches in a season, joining Tony Gonzalez (five times), Jason Witten (four), Todd Christensen (two) and Dallas Clark, Jimmy Graham, Ben Coates, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski.

Olsen thinks he's one of the better tight ends in the NFL.

"He is a big guy,'' Olsen said of Walker. "He is big, he is strong, and he can run. He tracks the ball well. When you are making a tight end, those are boxes you want to check, and he checks a lot of them."

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