Fox has confidence in Otah

First-round pick Jeff Otah went through his first practice as a professional this past week as the Panthers opened their second week of summer school sessions at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Prior to Monday the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Otah had been working on the side with trainers rehabbing a high ankle sprain that he initially injured last August while at the University of Pittsburgh.

As expected, Otah stepped right in and began working with the first team at right tackle ahead of Jeremy Bridges.

To say Otah was dominant would be incorrect.

The team isn't practicing in pads and there's limited contact, so there's only so much an offensive lineman can do at this time of the year to make an impact. And second, Otah looked a little slow reacting to certain blocking assignments, although that's probably to be expected given his late start.

"It felt good to finally get out there," Otah said. "Things move a little faster than in college out there. You know what you're doing, but you have to get it in your head a little faster so that you can react."

Otah said last week the time he spent in the team's meeting room was valuable. And clearly he was anxious to get on the field and make a good impression on his teammates.

"You know, when you look at your playbook, you know your plays.

"It's a little different when you've got to get out there and know them like that," Otah said as he snapped his fingers, "and know audibles like that."

Coach John Fox said that is what these summer school sessions are all about.

"They are basically to get your assignments down and know what to and how to do it," Fox said. "Then they'll put on pads and play real football when training camp starts."

Fox is confident Otah will be a big contributor this season for the Panthers as well as in years to come.

"He has digested all of the protections, the run schemes, the calls, so this was the first time, physically, he got to come out and actually execute that, so when we get to (training) camp, he's not thinking," Fox said.

Defensive end Tyler Brayton, another former first-round draft pick, lined up across from Otah on most of plays.

"He's big. He's strong. (But) it was his first day. I can't imagine that's very easy. And it's always tough on the first day," Brayton said.

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