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With a near-lethal mixture of rookies, injuries, and under-performing veterans, the Atlanta Falcons offensive line is in need of some help. Jeff Otah, whose trade from the Carolina Panthers to the New York Jets was nullified when he couldn’t pass the physical, might be a possible stop-gap solution.
Atlanta lost backup offensive tackle Will Svitek to injury for the season last week, and are left with very few options. Rookie Lamar Holmes has yet to show he’s ready to step in yet, and the rest of the offensive line reserves are stretched just as thin.
The Falcons have been searching for answers at the tackle position for what seems like years now. And if Jeff Otah can pass a physical and play at even 75% of the talent he showed when he first came to the league with the Panthers in 2008, he could prove to be a valuable commodity for Atlanta.
The Panthers selected Otah with the 19th pick in the first round in 2008, when they traded up with the Philadelphia Eagles to get him. Otah stepped in and began starting at right tackle almost immediately, and he started in 12 of 16 games his first season, missing the other four due to injury.
In 2009 Otah started 13 games, and then went down with what was described as a minor knee injury that required surgery. It was originally thought that it would be a short recovery period, and that Otah would be set to start the 2010 season. But he was placed on the PUP list to start the season, and then in November, the Panthers placed Otah on injured reserve, ending his season.
Otah’s knee problems continued into the 2011 season, and the Panthers again had to place him on injured reserve in October, after he had missed two of the team’s first six games.
Otah was traded to the Jets for an undisclosed draft pick on July 23, contingent on his passing a physical for the team. He failed two physicals, thus nullifying the trade, and was sent back to the Panthers, who subsequently released Otah.
The Falcons could pick up Otah—who states he will be able to pass a physical now—for a relatively cheap price, and see if he could be a worthwhile reclamation project, if even only to have a veteran backup at right tackle