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Otah's recovery, return a top need for Panthers

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted June 13, 2011 @ 10:29 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

While first overall pick Cam Newton will be in the spotlight and attract a great deal of attention in Carolina when football does resume, the return of ORT Jeff Otah is a significant issue facing the Panthers and it could fly under the radar.

The Panthers had great turnout at their player-organized practices in Charlotte this month, but sources on the scene did not see Otah among the group during the brief portion that the media was allowed to observe. A source told the Star of Cleveland County, N.C., that Otah did not participate in any of the practice sessions.

It's not clear what kept Otah from participating, but he missed all of last season with left knee issues and also underwent shoulder surgery, from which he still might be rehabbing.

The Panthers are hopeful Otah, a first-round pick in 2008, will return at full strength this season and solidify the right side of their offensive line, but a source told PFW it would be foolish to assume he will be back to 100 percent by the outset of training camp. Of course, it's not yet clear if camp will start on time with Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations continuing.

Garry Williams and Geoff Schwartz both played right tackle at times last season with Otah sidelined and the Panthers drafted a right tackle, Lee Ziemba, in the seventh round this year — so they do have options if Otah is unable to step right in right away.

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