LeCharles Bentley trying to get Jeff Otah back into shape


As the Jets continue to try to figure out how to fix their right tackle spot, the guy they thought would handle it is trying to get his career back on track.

Former Panthers first-round pick Jeff Otah, whose trade to the Jets was negated when he failed a physical, has been working out in Cleveland with LeCharles Bentley to try to get his feet back underneath him.

I believe he’s definitely going to be ready this season,” Bentley told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. “At what point in the season, I’m not sure. As a former player going through my own medical issues, it wasn’t until I took a step back and let some of my own personal baggage go, with my particular situation, [that] my body really started to heal. And I think that’s similar with Jeff.”

Otah played just four games the previous two years because of knee problems, but there were conditioning issues as well. The Jets were willing to risk a conditional seventh-rounder on him, but after a week of standing around, they sent him back to the Panthers, who promptly cut him.

And in what must be a surprise to the Panthers, Bentley said Otah has “a workman-type mentality, which is what he needs right now.”

“To go through what he’s gone through, it wasn’t exactly easy,” the former Saints and Browns center said.

Bentley said Otah’s already down 12 pounds to 340 since arriving. They prepare three meals a day for him at Bentley’s facility, and he doesn’t work out until he eats breakfast.

He also punches a clock, and watches film of the days when he played to his draft grade in Carolina.

“As good as he was, he wasn’t the best he’s going to be,” Bentley said. “And once he understands that, I think it really drives home the point that, ‘I’m here for a purpose.’ Jeff Otah needs time here to get himself, not just back into the league, but back being the best player he can be. When he’s the best player he can be, he’s going to be pretty damn special.”

Getting him back on the field would be an achievement, and a pretty good advertisement for Bentley’s ability as a coach and a mentor.

11 responses to “LeCharles Bentley trying to get Jeff Otah back into shape

  1. Always hope for Otah but as a Panther fan it’s really hard to see a guy who was so dominate as a Rookie fall this far.

  2. As a Panthers fan I’m kind of in ‘believe it when I see it’ mode with Otah. He could be a heck of a tackle for someone. At least he’s taking the steps to get better.

    He could have just taken the $11M he’s earned the last four years and gone home for good.

  3. Sometimes it takes something drastic like getting cut from a team, finding yourself without a paycheck, to motivate a player.

    All the talent in the world, but Otah was content to rest on his laurels. Think he was finding that the NFL is as much hard work and dedication as it is pure talent.

    Wish this guy the best, coming from a Panthers fan. It was obvious something wasn’t right with Otah as he struggled to get on the field, despite having all the time in the world to recover.

  4. Bentley said Otah has “a workman-type mentality, which is what he needs right now.”

    Of course he does. He probably went out clubbing the weekend after we cut him and tried to get in the VIP section, telling the bouncer, “I play in the NFL,” but the bouncer reads PFT and knew he had been cut, and turned him away. Otah really needs that “I play in the NFL” card to get into the best clubs and parties, so he’s really going to work to get on a roster.

  5. in 2008 he was the main reason Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart became the first duo to each rush for 1,100+ in a regular season.

    The dude is a road grader. I sincerely hopes he gets well, because he has some pretty crazy potential if healthy and more importantly he gets his mind right again.

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