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Lloyd

Injured Jeff Otah has not participated in ANY team drills

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Patient Panthers giving first-round pick Otah time to heal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As his Carolina teammates ran plays Friday, Panthers rookie Jeff Otah was alone on an adjacent field, carrying a medicine ball, sidestepping across the field and pushing a tackling dummy.

More than a month after the Panthers made perhaps their biggest draft gamble by trading away next year's first-round pick to get Otah, they've yet to see their new offensive tackle in a team drill.

Blame it on a nearly 10-month-old left ankle injury.

"I'm feeling real good right now," Otah said as sweat dripped from his brow. "I'm basically just listening to what the trainers are telling me to do and trying my best to get my ankle back to 100 percent."

Panthers coach John Fox insisted he's not alarmed that Otah is still recovering from a high-ankle sprain suffered in an August preseason practice at Pittsburgh. Otah didn't allow a sack and didn't miss a game at Pitt in 2007 despite playing in pain. He then had little time to rest as he prepared for the draft.

"He played the season and then all of a sudden you're getting ready for the combine," Fox said. "At some point the best healer is time. We're just more interested in that. ... We'd prefer him to be out there like all players, but on the other hand we want him healthy when we go to (training) camp and start up full speed."

And for what the Panthers gave away to get the 6-foot-6, 330-pound giant, they need Otah at full strength this season.

Otah is supposed to be the final piece to an offseason overhaul of the offensive line. Starters Justin Hartwig and Mike Wahle were released. The Panthers made Jordan Gross their franchise player, then moved him from right to left tackle. Travelle Wharton was re-signed, then moved from left tackle to left guard. Ryan Kalil moved from backup to starting center and Keydrick Vincent was signed to play right guard.

The Panthers eyed Otah as their answer at right tackle early in the draft process despite his late introduction to football.

A native of Nigeria, Otah was seven when he moved to the United States and played little in high school. He played two years of junior college before transferring to Pittsburgh. Last season he moved into a sure first-round pick despite the tender ankle.

"My team needed me so I was willing to go out there and play and suck it up," Otah said.

Fox personally attended Otah's pre-draft workout at Pittsburgh, and the Panthers were determined to make a deal for Otah moments after they took Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart with the 13th pick.

After numerous calls, Philadelphia was willing to make a deal. But it was costly.

The Panthers gave up their second- and fourth-round picks this year and their first-round pick in 2009 to the Eagles for the 19th pick. It was a bold move for a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2005.

"You're always going to feel a little bit of pressure being a first round pick, but I don't take it personally that they traded for me," Otah said. "If I got drafted in the fifth round I'd still be the same way, coming in here and working my butt off."

But so far Otah has been jogging on the side as veteran Jeremy Bridges works with the first team at right tackle. Otah isn't sure if he'll be able to practice over the final two weeks of optional workouts.

Meanwhile, Otah is watching and learning, while the Panthers hope their gamble produces a dominant tackle and helps end a two-year playoff drought.

"I'm just learning that it's a fast game. You've got to really know what you're doing," Otah said. "You've got to play fast and your technique is really important. These are professionals, so you've really got to bring your game when you're out there."

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Here's the part I dont get about people hyping the Panthers this year. The offensive line has 2 guys that juts broke the lineup, 2 guys that switched positions, and 1 rookie whos off to a slow start.

In the BEST case scenario, 4 out 5 of these moves work out and the chemistry happens by mid season.

The the d-Line had all of 23 sacks last year and its top sacker, Rucker with 5.5, retired.

Isnt this supposed to be the team that wins at the LOS?

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It was a horrible move to move up for a healthy Jeff Otah, this only makes it worse. I'm still in shock the Panthers gave up so much for him.

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Here's the part I dont get about people hyping the Panthers this year. The offensive line has 2 guys that juts broke the lineup, 2 guys that switched positions, and 1 rookie whos off to a slow start.

In the BEST case scenario, 4 out 5 of these moves work out and the chemistry happens by mid season.

The the d-Line had all of 23 sacks last year and its top sacker, Rucker with 5.5, retired.

Isnt this supposed to be the team that wins at the LOS?

I don't get it either. I think they top out at 8 wins. I haven't looked at their schedule. Is is easy?

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Here's the part I dont get about people hyping the Panthers this year. The offensive line has 2 guys that juts broke the lineup, 2 guys that switched positions, and 1 rookie whos off to a slow start.

In the BEST case scenario, 4 out 5 of these moves work out and the chemistry happens by mid season.

The the d-Line had all of 23 sacks last year and its top sacker, Rucker with 5.5, retired.

Isnt this supposed to be the team that wins at the LOS?

I agree too. I don't think they are horrible necessarily but they aren't a great team either and I think the Saints are the team to watch in that division a little more. They got off to an 0-4 start and Brees was awful those first handful of game and they just couldn't dig out of IT and though Vilma and Dan Morgan are huge questions, they might work out especially Vilma who's way better suited for the 4-3. They also have Sedrick Ellis.

I think they are counting on Delhomme to come back and for Peppers to rebound from a year where he had 2.5 sacks and they are hoping the additions of Muhammad and Hackett open things up for Steve Smith more than Colbert and Carter.

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I agree too. I don't think they are horrible necessarily but they aren't a great team either and I think the Saints are the team to watch in that division a little more. They got off to an 0-4 start and Brees was awful those first handful of game and they just couldn't dig out of IT and though Vilma and Dan Morgan are huge questions, they might work out especially Vilma who's way better suited for the 4-3. They also have Sedrick Ellis.

I think they are counting on Delhomme to come back and for Peppers to rebound from a year where he had 2.5 sacks and they are hoping the additions of Muhammad and Hackett open things up for Steve Smith more than Colbert and Carter.

Dan Morgan retired, but I still agree on Vilma.

The Panthers have huge question marks at almost every key position, IF Delhomme comes back, IF Muhammed helps, IF Otah can return from injury, IF the rest of the adjusts to new positions, IF Jonathon Stewart is as good as advertised. IF all of those things come to pass, the Panthers will be the team to watch. If they can keep Delhomme healthy, 8-10 wins is possible. If Delhomme goes down (and behind that shaky o-line, he will), 6-10 at best.

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If Otah starts 16 games this season, you can't say it was a bad move (unless he really sucks).

If he doesn't see the field at all, it wasn't wise to spend two 1st rounders on him.

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If Otah starts 16 games this season, you can't say it was a bad move (unless he really sucks).

If he doesn't see the field at all, it wasn't wise to spend two 1st rounders on him.

Forcing him into a starting role doesn't really make it a good trade.

He could be a stud or a bust. But if he's just some mediocre, middle of the road player, then yeah it's a bad trade. For what they gave up to get him, he has to be GOOD. Not as a rookie of course, but career-wise, he's got to be damn good to be worth that trade.

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agreed lloyd. I just wonder about the Panthers, jonathan Stewart is coming off a toe injury as well. Delhomme has never been a great quarterback, just a good one. Dwayne Jarrett was an absolute 0 as a rookie, not a good sign for them either. Julius Peppers is coming off his worst season ever, Mike Rucker retired, Dan Morgan isn't coming back, and the last time I watched Vilma play he got trucked by Brian Westbrook.

Unless Stewart really lights it up as a rookie, I think Steve Smith is still their entire offense, which has been their problem in the past.

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I don't get it either. I think they top out at 8 wins. I haven't looked at their schedule. Is is easy?

It's not at all brutal. I don't have it memorized, but the 2 hardest games seem to be @ San Deigo, and @ the Giants. The rest doesn't look that bad. Pretty much a toss of the coin schedule if you had to pick the games now.

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agreed lloyd. I just wonder about the Panthers, jonathan Stewart is coming off a toe injury as well. Delhomme has never been a great quarterback, just a good one. Dwayne Jarrett was an absolute 0 as a rookie, not a good sign for them either. Julius Peppers is coming off his worst season ever, Mike Rucker retired, Dan Morgan isn't coming back, and the last time I watched Vilma play he got trucked by Brian Westbrook.

Unless Stewart really lights it up as a rookie, I think Steve Smith is still their entire offense, which has been their problem in the past.

Kris Jenkins was also traded away.

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Here's the part I dont get about people hyping the Panthers this year. The offensive line has 2 guys that juts broke the lineup, 2 guys that switched positions, and 1 rookie whos off to a slow start.

In the BEST case scenario, 4 out 5 of these moves work out and the chemistry happens by mid season.

The the d-Line had all of 23 sacks last year and its top sacker, Rucker with 5.5, retired.

Isnt this supposed to be the team that wins at the LOS?

Every year they're the "Hype" pick, see Duke in college basketball for more info...

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They have the 6 division games (Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta)

NFC North (Packers, Vikings, Lions, Bears)

AFC West (Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders)

And the Giants and Arizona, since they all finished in second place in their division.

Not too bad, but they're not too good of a team either.

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Otah isn't going to be Jackie Slater this season....but he will develop into a Pro Bowl Olineman.

In 5 years, this trade will work out for both teams to an extent, considering the chances of that first round pick being in the top 12 is very good.

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Otah isn't going to be Jackie Slater this season....but he will develop into a Pro Bowl Olineman.

In 5 years, this trade will work out for both teams to an extent, considering the chances of that first round pick being in the top 12 is very good.

I don't see it.

I think he'll be more of the "steady eddie" type - a very good player with a long career, but not the kind of guy you put at LT and forget about the QBs blind side.

And frankly, since there are only 3 OTs selected to the pro bowl each year, that's the kind of guy you have to be to make it to Hawaii.

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Here's the part I dont get about people hyping the Panthers this year. The offensive line has 2 guys that juts broke the lineup, 2 guys that switched positions, and 1 rookie whos off to a slow start.

In the BEST case scenario, 4 out 5 of these moves work out and the chemistry happens by mid season.

The the d-Line had all of 23 sacks last year and its top sacker, Rucker with 5.5, retired.

Isnt this supposed to be the team that wins at the LOS?

Get used to it. The Panthers are hyped up before the season starts every single year. I haven't figured out why yet.

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At his size it'll be real easy to tweak that ankle. They have a lot riding on two rookies who may not be ready to do anything until training camp.

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I don't see it.

I think he'll be more of the "steady eddie" type - a very good player with a long career, but not the kind of guy you put at LT and forget about the QBs blind side.

And frankly, since there are only 3 OTs selected to the pro bowl each year, that's the kind of guy you have to be to make it to Hawaii.

He's going to surprise alot of people- like it was stated earlier, it's not a huge shock that someone who is the same size as a small mountain tweaks an ankle once in a while.

I think the trade was great for us more so than them, simply because we stocked up for the future and a 1st round pick is a lot to lose...but I think in 5 years, the Panthers will be allright with having given it up to get this guy...and I would love to think we'd be more than happy with that pick we got from them

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