Jeff Otah has his knee checked out

Jeff Otah is heading into the final year of his rookie contract with the Carolina Panthers.

It’s a critical year for him and now there is reason for some level of concern. Otah was taken for an MRI on his left knee Thursday, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. It flared up at some point in recent voluntary offseason workouts.

Otah missed 31 of the last 35 regular-season games with knee issues, and the Panthers placed him on injured reserve after he appeared in four games last season, per Person.

Is this considered a setback?

“Not really,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “But we just wanted to make sure everything’s OK.”

It might not be a setback yet but it’s not what the Panthers were expecting after shutting him down last year. Otah has been penciled in at right tackle and the Panthers have been counting on him. Byron Bell made 12 starts last season as an undrafted free agent, valuable experience. But the Panthers are keeping their fingers crossed Otah is OK.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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