The Detroit Lions need a big bounce-back season from Jeff Okudah as much as the player himself needs a bounce-back on the field. So far, it seems both goals could be on track to happen.
Okudah earned a starting job for the Lions with his performance over the camp and preseason, something that was alluded to this week. Amid a comeback and against plenty of odds, he managed to step up and deliver
Speaking to the media on Thursday, September 1, Okudah discussed where he’s at, and as he said, while it may have taken time for him to get back into things, he’s feeling much better at this point in time. In fact, he’s only gained in confidence lately.
“I would say coming in, just had to get back into the swing of things. I hadn’t really played ball competitively at least for 11 months, so didn’t want to be too hard on myself getting back into the swing of things,” he said. “I think these last two weeks, things really picked up and I’m feeling really comfortable in the direction that I’m trending.”
As Okudah knows and conceded, the position he plays on the field is fueled mostly by confidence. For him, it’s the only kind of confidence that can come from getting back out there in the fire and making things happen.
“Especially (the) defensive back position, confidence is really the name of the game. That’s I wouldn’t say physically or mentally it was hard, it was just like the feel. It’s kind of like a feel thing,” Okudah said. “Maybe if you hadn’t written an article for like a year or something, just getting back into writing a good piece of work. It’s kind of more of a feel thing, just feeling things out and letting the game just come to you and not maybe going out of your way to make a play or something just like staying within within your lane.”
It sure looks as if Okudah is confident and ready to go ahead of a big season on the field. His play has improved and he is keeping his head up and his mind right. That should set him up for a major season in 2022.
If the Lions get that, it could provide their entire defense with a big boost.
Okudah: Joint Practice Got Him Into the Flow
So what got Okudah into the mix the most? As he said, the experience of getting after it with others on the field helped do the trick in a big way.
Okuah and the Lions traveled to Indianapolis a few weeks ago for joint practices, and as he said, the experience was unlike many others for him in terms of preparation, and could have been just what the doctor ordered in terms of gearing him up.
“Those joint practices were fun. That was the first time I’ve been a part of that, going against another group of people in a practice setting,” he said. “The reps are there, but it’s really just anything goes in a way, so being able to be expressive and have fun. I think just that energy kind of carried over. When you get momentum, I think (what) we try to do is hold on to it and get off of it.”
After that practice, things seem to have clicked in an even bigger way for Okudah. The defender is now playing confidently both in practices and games, which has impressed his head coach.
If Okudah has a big season, the game-like setting might end up as the biggest reason why that played out in the end.
Okudah’s Comeback Officially Complete
Off last season’s untimely ACL injury, Okudah has been working harder than ever to come back strong for the 2022 season, and with news that he is set to play a starting role, that’s only more the case.
Okudah knows the importance of the year to try and shed bust labels from the media. 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 looked solid and was able to moving around fluidly. The next step for Okudah is finding a way to elevate his play and show an understanding of the team’s defense during a game. 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.
The goal for Okudah now? Get on the field during the regular season and apply the lessons learned. With such confidence, it seems that will be the case.
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