Panthers' Otah has '2- to 3-week' setback after knee surgeries

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers starting right tackle Jeff Otah acknowledged Thursday that he has had continued problems in his recovery from two surgeries on his left knee and is still "two or three weeks" from being able to play.

It leaves the Panthers without a key cog on their offensive line starting with Sunday's season opener at the New York Giants, with Geoff Schwartz expected to start in Otah's place.

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"I had a mini-setback," Otah said. "Things didn't go as planned."

The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Otah first had surgery in December to repair torn cartilage that knocked him out of the final three games. Otah had continued pain when players reported to training camp and was placed on the physically unable to perform list.

Otah had another arthroscopic procedure on the same knee Aug. 4. He was recovering from that when the pain recently returned while he was running.

"I might have pushed myself a little too hard coming back. Then I had a setback," said Otah, who hasn't practiced since training camp began. "Little upset with that, but I've got to move on and try to get back out there."

Schwartz proved to be a capable backup as a rookie last year while starting in Otah's place in the final three games, including in the Panthers' 41-9 victory over the Giants when Jonathan Stewart rushed for 206 yards.

But behind the starting line is uncertainty. The only other linemen on Carolina's roster are Garry Williams, who played in seven games mostly on special teams as an undrafted rookie last year, and Tim Duckworth, a journeyman who signed with the team Aug. 30.

"Either way, most people are only going to be able to suit up seven or eight of them," Panthers coach John Fox said of his offensive line. "I feel comfortable with that."

Otah, who became an immediate starter after being a first-round draft pick in 2008, said he hasn't had swelling in the knee, just nagging pain.

"I didn't expect it to take this long. It's frustrating," Otah said. "All I can do is try to rehab as hard as I can and get back out there."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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