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.