One of the biggest stories of the 2021 season for the Detroit Lions ended up being injuries, and the team sustained multiple key losses to multiple key starters that hampered their season from start to finish.
Now that the offseason has begun, the Lions are in much better shape as it relates to those injuries, and the team could be looking at getting much healthier in the process. Both Romeo Okwara and Jeff Okudah have been targeted as players that are making great progress toward being able to come back much stronger in 2022.
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Speaking at the NFL Combine, Lions head coach Dan Campbell explained that the players are doing well and looking like they are on schedule for a return to the field by training camp, assuming everything continues to go well within their recoveries.
Dan Campbell on the injury recoveries for Romeo Okwara and Jeff Okudah: “Both of those guys are right where they need to be. As long as everything stays its course … hoping to have them by training camp,” Burke tweeted.
Hearing this key duo is on track as hoped represents a big win for the Detroit offseason. At both positions of need, the team needs the healthy return of each player to the roster for 2022 and beyond.
The hope is each player can continue to stay on track within the offseason program.
Okwara’s Career Stats & Highlights
Sadly, the Lions lost Okwara last year before he had a chance to really get things going on his 2021 year. In Week 4, Okwara was lost to an ACL injury that claimed the rest of his season. He had only 6 total tackles and 1 sack before going down.
The recent injury didn’t diminish what he was able to do in the past, however. If there’s been one pass rusher these past few seasons for the Lions that has stepped up as a whole, it’s Okwara, who came alive at the right time for Detroit most of the 2020 season. As a whole that season, Okwara managed to collect the most sacks of any Lions player with 10, and also collected the most tackles in one season of his career with 44.
Okwara thrives on creating pressure and panic in the pocket. His presence was missed by a Lions team that once again struggled to get after the quarterback last year, so his healthy return would mean a great deal to the defense for 2022.
Here’s a look at some of his work in Detroit from the past:
Detroit could use the kind of bounce-back season from Okwara that harkens back memories of the past just like some of these highlights show. With that, the team’s defense will only be stronger.
Okudah Looking Healthy Already Training for 2022
Perhaps the best news for the Lions is how quickly the team has seen Okudah bounce back. Already, he’s been showcasing his progress this offseason. Okudah was lost after Week 1 in 2021 with an ugly ACL injury, and has had to rehab himself since. Not much has been said about his healing process this offseason, but a few key updates that have surfaced seem to show things going very well for the young player. Here’s a look at Okudah doing some workouts:
Considering where he was in September and October, this progress in health is a major positive to note. It certainly appears as if Okudah’s recovery is going well, and if that is the case, it would be big news for a Lions defense that needs him in 2022.
Many see the defensive backfield as a major weakness on the team even with names like Jerry Jacobs, Amani Oruwariye, AJ Parker and others on the roster. Okudah is a key part of that group, too, and he could serve notice of that if he is able to come into the offseason program healthy and making a difference.
Having both Okwara and Okudah back healthy will provide a big boost to the Lions in 2022, and that’s before the team even considers what to do in free agency or the impending NFL draft.