There is hope for Carolina's O-line

August, 29, 2011
8/29/11
12:34
PM ET
The offensive line was supposed to be a strength for the Carolina Panthers. Through three preseason games, it’s been just the opposite.

Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen haven’t gotten much protection and the run blocking hasn’t been great. So what’s the problem?

Actually, there are several problems. Let’s start with right tackle Jeff Otah. He missed all of last season with a knee injury and that’s been flaring up this preseason. Otah said he thinks he’ll be all right for the regular season, but he’s not sure.

If he’s not healthy, that’s a major problem. Otah is one of the league’s top run-blockers and he’s not bad in pass protection. The Panthers weren’t able to adequately replace him last year and there’s no reason to think things will be different if Otah misses time this season.

If Otah is healthy, that should fix a lot of problems with Carolina’s offensive line. But Otah’s health isn’t the only issue for this offensive line.

Although the Panthers have Pro Bowlers in left tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil and a very good left guard in Travelle Wharton, the transition to a West Coast offense hasn’t been very smooth.

The offense is new and Gross, Kalil and Wharton are adjusting. All three are smart veterans and they’ll pick up the system before long. If they can do that and get Otah healthy, the offensive line can get back to being a strength.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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