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Otah fails Jets physical, goes back to Panthers

July 31, 2012

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Jeff Otah is heading back to the Carolina Panthers.

The veteran offensive tackle failed his physical again with the Jets on Tuesday, meaning New York's trade with Carolina was rescinded. Otah was acquired by the Jets last Monday, but failed his first physical and was placed on the active-physically unable to perform list. He had seven days — until Tuesday — to pass it.

"Jeff didn't fulfill the terms of the trade, so he's en route to Carolina and he'll remain with the Panthers," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.

He wouldn't say if New York had the opportunity to extend the deadline for Otah.

"We had seven days, and we took the seven days," Tannenbaum said.

Otah was sidelined most of the last two seasons by a nagging knee injury, but New York traded a conditional draft pick to Carolina for the former first-rounder to push right tackle Wayne Hunter for the starting job.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said he'll meet with Otah on Wednesday in Spartanburg, S.C.

Otah will have another physical at that point before the Panthers (20, AP Pro32) decide whether to activate him to the roster or keep him on the active-PUP list, according to Hurney. Once that decision is made, the Panthers will decide whether to keep him, trade him again or simply release him. Hurney said there were other teams interested in Otah before the trade with the Jets.

"I think you always keep everything open, but until we sit down with Jeff, it's hard to say a lot," Hurney said. "So that will be the first step on Wednesday, to meet with him. We'll go from there."

Hunter struggled mightily last season in his first stint as a full-time starter with the Jets (17, AP Pro32).

"No question, he's our starting right tackle — until that changes," Tannenbaum said of Hunter. "We've been very clear with Wayne with where he stands, but he's our right tackle."

Tannenbaum is high on some of the younger linemen the Jets have in camp, including Austin Howard, but would not rule out bringing in a proven veteran to challenge Hunter.

"We'll keep looking for opportunities to improve the team as they may or may not come along, and we'll go from there," Tannenbaum said.

The 26-year-old Otah played in only four games last season, then went on injured reserve Oct. 19 with a left knee injury. He has missed 31 of his last 35 games. Otah worked off to the side with Jets trainers during practice since camp opened last Friday.

"Jeff gave us a really good week," Tannenbaum said. "He's a really nice guy. Beyond that, he's a member of the Panthers now, so that's all I can really say. He did everything we asked for the past week."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he has been impressed with left tackle Jordan Gross and the three players competing for the right tackle spot Otah once held. Byron Bell is working with the starters, while Garry Williams and Bruce Campbell are competing for time.

"What our four tackles have done for us has been excellent," Rivera said. "I'm very happy and excited about what they're doing."

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