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May 30, 2008

Q&A with rookie OT Jeff Otah

Here's a Q&A with Panthers rookie offensive tackle Jeff Otah, a first-round draft pick who hasn't practiced with the team yet because of a high-ankle sprain, which he's continuing to recover from. Otah hurt the ankle in preseason camp before his final season at the University of Pittsburgh and played hurt the entire 2007 season. Otah spoke with reporters after Thursday's summer-school practice, when he worked out on his own on the sideline with a Panthers trainer.

Q. How's the ankle feel and when do you think you'll be able to practice?

It's feeling really good right now, it's getting better. I'm just doing what the trainers tell me. You always want to be out there with your teammates, working at getting better. But right the now trainers say to let the ankle heal up.

Q. How tough was it to play last season at Pitt and was the injury severe enough to make you miss any games?

It was hard during the season last year, but the trainers at the University of Pittsburgh really helped me out to get me to play games. It never was that close (to missing games), but there were times... But the team needed me to go out and play, so I had had to suck it up. It never healed up but I kept on playing.

Q. How well have you been able to pick up plays with the Panthers by just being in meetings and not being able to practice?

It all starts in the meeting room, that's where you learn your plays. I'm glad I'm getting an opportunity to learn those plays.

I've learned it's a fast game and you've got to know what you’re doing.

Q. The Panthers traded next season's first-round pick to get a chance to draft you in this year's first round. Any pressure on you, knowing they gave up that much?

You're always going to feel pressure being a first-round pick. But I don't really feel any pressure. If I was taken in the fifth round, I'd come in here and work my butt off.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 30, 2008 at 01:36 PM | Permalink


Sounds like a Panther already. Saying the right things, sounding professional. Seems as though he is able to play through pain, which he will have to do to be an asset. I can be patient, not easy to do, but I'll try. As always, GO CATS!

Posted by: iamhubby | May 30, 2008 2:29:11 PM

I just hope he works out for us. We invested a lot into this guy, and he still has yet to touch the field. He "seems" like a pretty good catch, but so have a lot of other prior picks. Panthers 9-7 in 2009!

Posted by: Chuck | May 30, 2008 3:01:33 PM

I think Jeff Otah will be fine and he will contribute. If this guy was able to add that kind of push when he was hurt, letting his ankle heal will only make him better.

Posted by: capfolly | May 30, 2008 3:44:35 PM

Good point capfolly, lets just hope that you are right!!

Posted by: Chuck | May 30, 2008 5:59:50 PM

He sounds like a bright guy with a good work ethic. If that turns out to be true he will work out for us.

Posted by: Jim | May 30, 2008 6:15:57 PM

I know it's hard but we shouldn't be bothered to much by this. We aren't the first and certainly not the last team in the NFL that will have rookies missing camps. Remember that last year Jon Beason didn't show up until late Mini camp over his contract and he worked out fine. And I like the fact that he is paying extreme attention to whats happaning on the field and in the meeting rooms. He is doing his best to get ready as soon as possible. Like I said before he played an entire FB season with a high ankle sprain while knocking guys like Chris long on his ass along the way. 70% ankle healed he was a beast. 100% he could be a monster.

Posted by: capfolly | May 30, 2008 7:38:46 PM

it was training camp when beason got there, which is even better, the o-line needs to gel though.

Posted by: t | May 30, 2008 8:34:54 PM


Posted by: BDUB | May 30, 2008 11:12:18 PM

All of the fair weather fans need to take a back seat. Smitty, Moose, and my man coming back from the dead, JPEPP are gonna show all the haters (bandwagon fans) what CAROLINA football is all about. The most important piece to the team "Jake Delhomme" will be back in full force, so all the so called experts at the 4 letter network can sit back and eat their words as the Panthers storm through the NFC South on their way to the super bowl in 2008!

Posted by: BDUB | May 30, 2008 11:23:02 PM

I know this was a rant but if anyone wants to get technical about it speak up. Tell me the defense is not up to par. Wait until the season starts and everyone is talking about the amazing turnaround in Carolina and how jpepp is back to his old self. The secondary is stacked, they have the best linebacking corps in all of football, and the offense is going to run over people.

Posted by: BDUB | May 30, 2008 11:32:43 PM

You're incorrect on several counts, cap. Firstly, Beason was present and playing at every single day of minicamp. He didn't miss anything until training camp, but he already had a good enough foundation in the system to overcome that. Otah has none of that, and will be far behind by the time minicamp starts. In addition, he didn't do many knockdowns of Chris Long at all. The guy played in about 30 snaps that game. UVA was up 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.

And again...I beg the question, what is "JPepp's old self?" One decent game followed up by a month of invisible ones?

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 31, 2008 12:18:00 AM

Perhaps Pepper's old self is the same guy that recorded 12 sacks in 12 games is rookie season, recorded a career-low...until this season.... 7 sacks in his sophomore campaign, and also had totals of 11, 10.5, and 13. Peppers may tend to "disappear" from time to to time, but he has proven he can get the job done at a high level. Peppers is also an athletic freak and drops into pass coverage multiple times a game, and I would like to know how that compares to other DE's in the league. Pass rushers will be the first to say that sacks come in bunches and the same can be said for Peppers. I do believe though the mystery illness from last season was, in fact, apathy. I didn't see that fire in Peppers that I have seen in seasons past and Jerry Richardson's comments in training camp only seemed to add unwanted weight on his back, Richardson even said he wished he hadn't spoken in the fashion he did. With a payday upcoming, a much brighter outlook, and a coach who he loves to play for being on the hot-seat, I expect Peppers to post 12 sacks this year and maybe a few INT's or fumble recoveries. He has too much pride to post another season like last year. I just would like to know, Procton, what is better in your opinion. If Pep got a sack a game for 16 games, or if he goes for 3 sacks, none the next game, 2 after that, none for two games, then 2 again the next? In my opinion it's those spurts that are actually effective. In the grand scheme, the difference between 0 sacks and 1 sack in a game is negligible, but a difference between 2 sacks or 3 sacks and 0 sacks in a game is quite different, and could be the difference between a W and a L in the standings.

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | May 31, 2008 1:12:42 AM

I don't know but JP had a seriously sneaky way of getting to the QB's blindside enough in college to warrant being the #2 overall pick in the 2002 draft .. I can definitely see him returning to form playing the natural RDE stance he consistently dominated playing @ UNC. QBs won't see him coming all year long. I think going up against the leet' LTs will bring out the best in Pep... I also think Brayton will do a lot of nut cracking in the 4-3 and C. Johnson will bring the heat ..only time will tell whether or not these predictions come true.. ;p

Posted by: shaun | May 31, 2008 8:37:27 AM

I like it in the butt, check me out

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 31, 2008 9:10:26 AM

im not worried about the offense or the defense.this is a very talented team.i am scared to death that fox,crossman, and trgo will totally mess things up,plus the off coordinator hasnt proven himself.
we may need to get a new staff in here ,led by bill cowher ,in order to make this group a team. whatever they do i hope they keep hurney and gregory. they did a great job in the draft,free agency, and getting rid of the deadwood.

Posted by: ray | May 31, 2008 10:53:10 AM

Mountie, I think you're dead wrong. I'd take sixteen one-sack games over four four-sack games any day; particularly given the circumstances they come from. Peppers does often have big games, but they come against terrible/backup-caliber tackles (see Brown, Elton), and they come in games where we blow the other team out. I'd rather have one important sack in a close game, but Peppers has shown that he gets to the QB with less frequency (game-to-game) than any other elite DE in the league, as I've shown multiple times. Your coverage excuse, too, is a total sham. He drops back maybe three or four times a game (as was printed by the Observer last year.) I don't care how many sacks Peppers can rack up against Todd Weiner or Quinn Ojinnaka. I'd just rather see him give 100% effort on every play, every game.

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 31, 2008 11:08:20 AM

HAHA Ray, you obviously aren't aware that Fox and Hurney are one of the few tandems of GM and coach in the league who actually make every decision together. Fox and Hurney go over every personnel move, as does every scout or anyone else they deem necessary...i.e. trainers to judge physical health. You also must not realize that Fox is the ultimate players coach and that these guys would go to war for this man. If anything, bringing in Cowher, who is a stern disciplinarian, would divide the locker room and create an abrasive atmosphere. If Fox isn't the right guy for the job, how on earth did he lead this team to two NFC Championships and a Super Bowl, Ray?

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | May 31, 2008 11:13:15 AM

Procton, I said he drops into coverage multiple times. 3 to 4 times a game is multiple times, learn to count. I actually wondered how that compares to other DE's, because that is a bigger deal. Also, you just threw out statements regarding when his sacks come and against what talent. I don't doubt that some of that may be true, but that's not that believable. In fact, in 2006 when he posted 13 sacks, 6 sacks came in the first half and 9 came while the lead was at 7 or less. In 2005, 7.5 of his 11.5 sacks in came in the first half and 5 also came while the lead was at seven or less. In '04, of his 11 sacks 5 came in the first half and 6 came while the lead is 14 or less...which is hardly a blowout. And skipping his 7 sack sophomore campaign to go only with double digit sack seasons, in his rookie season, 8 of his 12 sacks came in the first half, 6 while the lead was at 7 or less and another 4 while the lead was at 14...so 10 of his 12 sacks came while the game was still competitive. Procton, unless you can go back and find every defender he went against to record these sacks, which is still total BS like your last argument because everyone in the NFL can play. That's a complete cop-out to say he went against weak players or backups. You don't even know, you just said made a blanket statement, sort-of the way you did with when his sacks came. But you were wrong about that, weren't you?

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | May 31, 2008 11:32:02 AM

I think Peppers can help us a lot from the RDE position. It is hard to find elite LT and Peppers has proven that he can take advantage of any lineman that are not.

I nothing else, I don't think many QBs will sleep well knowing Peppers got 20+ chances at thier blindside the next day (even though they will deny it, of course)

Posted by: Thorrez | May 31, 2008 12:07:11 PM

Yeah, I would have expected Long to have picked up more sacks going against Otah. And anyone who watched Panther games saw Peps drop back into coverage way too much, the oberver sports isnt exactly a reliable source.

Posted by: matt | May 31, 2008 12:12:06 PM

Again...Long hardly played in that game...it was a blowout. As for the Observer, you can go back yourself. They charted Peppers PLAY-BY-PLAY.

And here's what I do know, Mountie...great players are consistent, and Peppers is less consistent than any great DE of the last 10 years. I'll repost a study I did in April about it:

A game-changing play once or twice a season is a great thing, but is it worth it when the guy just doesn't show up for other games? A DE's job is to pressure the quarterback and stop the run. Everything else is gravy. Julius inconsistently does the former and other teams plan around the fact that he can't do the latter (that's why he gets run at ALL the time.) If you really want me to try and tell you more productive players, I'll do it (and these numbers will be since '02, so I can make sure I follow your stipulation of "Since Peppers came into the league":

Julius Peppers has averaged 10.0 sacks per 16/game season. Further, in the playoffs, he averages just over three tackles a game with only two sacks in seven games.

Dwight Freeney? 10.9 sacks/16 games, with 6 sacks in 11 career playoff games. Drafted 9 picks later in the same year.
Now that's the glaring example, being as they're from the same class...BUT we can clearly find others.

Aaron Schobel, since 2002 (the year Peppers was drafted) averages 10.1 sacks/16 games, and it would be tough to argue that Pep has had superior talent around him on the Panthers' line.

John Abraham averages 10.7 sacks/16 (although, to be fair, Pep has never been able to face Wharton at tackle against him.)

Patrick Kearny and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila average the same 10.0 sacks/16.

Leonard Little averages 10.9 sacks/16.

Jason Taylor averages 12.9 sacks/16!

Simeon Rice averages 12.1 sacks/16!

As to my earlier point about the frequency in which a DE gets to the QB, let's look at the percentage a player has gotten a sack in any given game in their career (regular season only):

*Peppers: 39% (90 G, 35 G w/sacks.)...he's also had career-high streaks of: Games w/sack-5 games (2X), Games w/o sack-5 games (3X)

*Freeney: 48% (88/42)...career-highs: 4 games w/sack (2X); 4 games w/o sack (once)

*Schobel: 51% (96/49)...career-highs: 6games/w sack; 5 games w/o sack (2X)

*Abraham: 49% (75/37)... career-highs: 5 games w/sack (once); 3 games w/o sack (3X)

*Little: 43% (81/35)...career-highs: 5 games w/sack (once); 6 games w/o sack (once)

*Taylor: 75% (96/56)...career-highs: 8 games w/sack (once); 3 games w/o sack (2X)

I could certainly keep going, but unfortunately, I have to dash off to work. Good luck justifying your boy's months without any production again this year!

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 31, 2008 3:52:15 PM

Procton - did you factor the games Peppers did not play. Say the last four of his rookie season. Also, any othere games he missed because of injury hint hint last game of 07. You can make stats for anything. I can go back up and count the number of times that you have commented on here and assume that you know more than everybody else based off the number of post. But if I actually read what you wrote it goes against the idea that alot of post equals alot of knowledge. Take your stats and go find rainman to hang out with. He will probably be the only on that appreciates them. Have a good day.

Posted by: Cheerman23 | May 31, 2008 4:15:55 PM

First of all, he is not my boy. I simply have a problem when someone makes blanket statements, as you did, without justification. The frequency he gets to the quarterback is something I never brought up, or even disputed, so you just wasted your entire afternoon....nice try though. You said he gets his sacks when we are blowing a team out and against weak opponents and/or backups. I clearly showed the former is not the least bit true and a complete lie that you spouted off about, most likely hoping someone would take you at your word. Also, I asked you to look up who exactly his sacks came against. But you would rather avoid that altogether and try and shine the light on another facet of his game that I not once disputed. Congratulations, though, that looked like you put a lot work into that. I never claimed Peppers was an elite DE, or even a great one, simply that his old self is one that at the end of the year the sack totals are there. Next time, don't come on here spreading lies, and how about facing something I actually brought up, not trying to create an argument I never had a stake in.

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | May 31, 2008 4:18:03 PM

OK, mountie, here goes.

2007: 1.5 sacks against Elton Brown (Arizona's FOURTH tackle)
1 sack against Mark Tauscher (full-time starter, no career postseason honors)

2006: 4 sacks against Jeremy Trueblood (two games, part-time starterROOKIE in his first game action after an injury to Kenyatta Walker (week 3) and starting his 6th career game (week 10))
3 sacks against Marcus Johnson (part-time starter)
2 sacks against Tony Pashos (first season as starter, 13th career start)
2 sacks against Todd Weiner (two games, full-time starter, no career postseason honors)
1 sack against Jon Stinchcomb (first season as starter, FOURTH career start)
1 sack against Ryan Tucker (part-time starter)

2005: 3 sacks against Rob Pettiti (6th-round rookie)
3 sacks against Kenyatta Walker (two games, full-time starter, no career postseason honors)
1.5 sacks against Jason Fabini (part-time starter)
1 sack against Kelly Butler (1st-year starter in 6th career start)
1 sack against Todd Weiner (two games, part-time starter)
1 sack against Jason Peters (part-time starter in first year as offensive lineman (former TE)

2004: 2 sacks against LJ Shelton (part-time starter)
2 sacks against John Welbourn (part-time starter)
2 sacks against Robert Gallery (rookie starting 8th game universally considered bust)
2 sacks against Scott Gragg (full-time starter, no career postseason honors)
1 sack against Blaine Saipaia (part-time starter in second career start)
1 sack against Kenyatta Walker (part-time starter)
1 sack against Victor Riley (part-time starter)

So that means, in the last four years, Peppers has 8 sacks out of his 37 against veteran full-time starters. That's 22%, and I'm not impressed, particularly considering that 20 of those 37 (54%) have come against part-time starters. Again...he feasts off backups, and, because he's played on the left side, these are RIGHT tackles. That's the second-best tackle in the lineup. Further, we know that he hasn't gotten a sack of a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro in at least four years.

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 31, 2008 5:11:19 PM

Its amazing what copy and paste can do, huh Procton!

Posted by: Cameron | May 31, 2008 7:40:30 PM

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