Panthers general manager Marty Hurney surprised everyone when he announced on Wednesday that tackle Jeff Otah had been placed on Injured Reserve due to complications with his left knee -- the same knee that's given him trouble for more than two years.
"Since training camp, he's been working hard to strengthen that left knee that kept him out last year," Hurney said on Wednesday. "He's worked hard, but he's just never been able to get over the hump. He's also had concurrent issue, listed as questionable the last two weeks with a back injury.
"We met with Jeff over the last couple of days and decided that the best thing to do was put him on IR so he could concentrate on strengthening the knee, essentially taking an 11-week loss for a long-term gain."
The Panthers hope that Otah will be healthy for the start of next season. However, with the likelihood of the Panthers having another top five draft pick next year being high, one has to wonder if the team won't invest in a tackle with that pick. Otah hasn't been reliable since the team drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft, and Jordan Gross has been less-than spectacular this season.
"I'm not a doctor, but there's no recipe for how long it takes for someone to come back from an injury, especially a knee injury to a person of Jeff's size," Hurney said. "Every individual and every injury is different, so it's difficult to go into length of time. All we know is that when we hit training camp, he worked very hard.
"Now unfortunately we didn't have the offseason with him in here because of the lockout, but when we got to training camp we had a plan, and he worked hard with Joe Kenn to strengthen the knee. He played in some games, but he never got over the hump. That's what we're looking to do by letting him concentrate on the knee and take him away from the pounding of practice and games.
"Obviously, he was very disappointed," Hurney said. "Jeff is a competitor. He wants to be on the field. He understands it, but he wants to play. That's every player."