Jeff Otah fails physical, leaving Wayne Hunter as Jets' right tackle
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- With Jeff Otah already en route back to the Panthers after his failed physical Tuesday, Mike Tannenbaum was left to defend the starting right tackle who remains.
The Jets general manager expressed rather tepid confidence in Wayne Hunter, whose job has been in question since the end of last season. Though he praised Hunter's play in road playoff games and stressed that his "A" game "is more than enough to win with," Tannenbaum still plans to explore other options.
No deals are imminent. "But I wouldn't rule anything out," he told reporters Tuesday.
The Jets traded for Otah last week despite lingering questions about his health. He had two surgeries on his left knee and went on injured reserve last year after playing only four games in 2010 and 2011. Nevertheless, the Jets were hopeful Otah would be healthy enough to compete at right tackle.
He never got the chance.
After failing his physical, he was placed on the active PUP list last Wednesday and given seven days to pass another. Otah failed his second physical Tuesday morning, which forced the Jets to rescind their offer.
Otah said Monday he wasn't sure when his next exam would be, but that he felt good physically. Rather unconvincingly, he added: "I feel like I can pass it."
With Otah no longer an option, attention turned to Hunter, who is due a guaranteed $2.45 million this season. Tannenbaum said he has "done well" but also praised the play of tackle Austin Howard.
"There's going to be competition from within, as well as on the streets," Tannenbaum said. "We're encouraged by Austin Howard. Look, it's early in camp, but there's some encouragement there. I think we've identified teams that have some depth, and sometimes these things take a while. But I think Wayne's done a good job, and Austin, in particular, has done better than we thought he would."
Tannenbaum hasn't praised Hunter as effusively as has offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who said two months ago that Hunter would be the starting right tackle "until they shoot me dead in my office."
"If we had to go into the season tomorrow with our offensive line, we feel good about it," said Tannenbaum, who chuckled when reminded of DeGuglielmo's words. "I'm just saying if there's other opportunities out there, we wouldn't rule those out."
For now, Hunter has "the inside track.
"Yes, he's our starting right tackle," Tannenbaum said. "Until that changes."