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Under Pressure (Jeff Otah)

One of the bigger concerns at the moment with the Panthers is the defense. A struggling secondary and a young defensive line will force the offense to make big plays on every possession. This simply will not happen. Whether we like it or not, the Panthers will fight hard for every point they post this season. Much of that fight will rest on the offensive line to allow the run game to be more effective and give Cam a little more time to make decisions. At the moment, responsibility lies heavily on Jeff Otah.


Otah has been one of the best performers on the O-line in every season that he was healthy for. In 2008, the Panthers ran for 2,437 yards. In 2009, 2,498 yards. Last year, only 1,846 yards. There is a pretty big discrepancy from the previous years and last year that many attribute to Otah’s absence on the line. At 6-6, 330 lbs, anyone can guess that a man of his size will have an impact, but not one that is so noticeable as when he is not there. After suffering a knee injury at the end of the 2009 season, Otah spent last season recovering and has finally made his way back to the field. Coaches are being careful with him so as not to push too hard and risk him re-injuring that knee. Where will the O-line be then?


Jordan Gross, two-time pro bowler at left tackle and seasoned Panther from 2003, has left his mark in the history of the team. He definitely left his mark in the preseason and it was not reminiscent of the pro bowler we have come to know. Gross struggled in Carolina’s first preseason game against DE Jason Pierre-Paul, a rookie, however impressive he may be. Stewart and DWill can’t run effectively if the defense knows that Otah’s side is where they are coming from. Gross isn’t the only player on the line that needs to share the load, but he has been with the program a lot longer and needs to show it.

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