A major question for the Detroit Lions this offseason has revolved around the progress made by cornerback Jeff Okudah. Coming off injury, how has Okudah looked on the field and how will he develop?
The answer could be a good one for Lions fans if Dan Campbell is to be believed. Campbell, like others, was watching to see what Okudah would look like on the field and so far, so good for the cornerback ahead of a vital year.
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Speaking to the media on Thursday, June 2, Campbell was asked about where Okudah was at in his estimation and as he said, it’s to the point where the injury isn’t a concern at this point in time for the player.
“I am very encouraged. We know the surgery went well and the rehab process. I feel really good about where he’s come and where the injury’s at. I feel like he’s right where he needs to be. In some regards, that’s the least of my concerns, the achilles. That’s a good thing,” Campbell told the media.
A big reason that is the case? Modern medicine, something which has helped players like Okudah in a major way.
“(The Achilles) was considered a career ender and now some guys are back (in) five months. It is amazing. It is a good sign. I think honestly, almost the scary thing is does it take? Sometimes if it’s a cadaver, does your body take it or reject it? If you’re repairing you own tissue, is there enough there? Are you rehabbing it properly? Dd you push it too much early? If your body accepts it and you give it time to heal, you should be pretty good. I’m not a doctor by the way, so let me make sure (that’s clear),” Campbell quickly joked.
He’s not a medical doctor, but Campbell has seen enough in the game to qualify him as a football laureate. To that end, his early signs from Okudah are good news before a big season for the young defensive back.
Campbell Impressed With Okudah’s Engagement After Injury
A big way that Okudah attacked the process? He never stopped being engaged even after the injury. The cornerback stuck around and earned the respect of his coaching staff for what he was able to do in terms of preparation.
“I thought he did a good job. That’s not easy to do. He really had progressed and worked himself through camp and got a little bit better. Before the injury, he made a couple plays before that where he bounced back in the game and then that happens. That’s not an easy thing to do,” Campbell said. “Then he was hurt the year prior. He got it fixed, he attacked the surgery, the rehab. He was up here plenty. We saw a lot of him. He wanted to be around. He’d be up here, watching tape with the guys, being in meetings, sometimes he’d watching practice, he’d scoot out there. It’s better than totally disengaging and being away from it. I don’t think that’s great for you either.”
Okudah had a nice mix of engagement as well as work on his own, so it’s safe to say this could set him up to have a resurgent year.
Okudah Worked Hard to Forge 2022 Comeback
Off last season’s untimely ACL injury, Okudah has been working harder than ever to come back strong for the 2022 season. He knows the importance of the year not only for himself to try and shed such labels from the media, but also the team as well. A resurgent Okudah would give the Lions major depth at cornerback, and could also provide the team another stable player with which to rely on at a key position on the field.
So far, Okudah looks great as some of the videos posted show him moving around fluidly and looking well. The next step for Okudah is finding a way to elevate his play and show an understanding of the team’s defense. Unfortunately, he was robbed of the chance to do this during the lost 2021 season, when that growth could have played out from Week 1 until Week 17 for Detroit.
Still, a healthy Okudah seems like a bet to be solid in 2022. The work he has put in is a good sign for the Lions, as is Campbell’s positive approach about what he has been able to do so far on the field in rehab as well as during the process.