Jeff Okudah had not played a football game in almost a year before last Friday night, but the grace given to him did not fully extend to come from Okudah himself.
When he suited up against the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason opener, Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah had not played a football game in almost exactly 11 months (334 days, to be exact, h/t to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). He suffered a torn Achilles in Week 1 last season, which of course sidelined him for the rest of the campaign.
And with only 10 games played in two NFL seasons, the third overall pick in the 2020 draft is almost like a rookie entering his third year.
Okudah played solidly against the Falcons over 18 snaps, with three total tackles and a 12-yard pass completion allowed. No one would say he wasn’t good enough, and some may even say he shined.
But here’s what Okudah said after last Friday night’s game, via Heavy.com.
"I think it was solid. I think all things considered, it was solid. For me being a perfectionist, I hate that a receiver caught a ball on me but I think it’s something I could definitely look at and build from it,”"
Lions head coach Dan Campbell encouraged by Jeff Okudah’s performance
Here’s what head coach Dan Campbell had to say when asked about Okudah on Monday morning.
"We came out of this game encouraged with Jeff, like, ‘OK, this is pretty good,’ just to see him get up there and press a little bit, challenge, and then, man, he’s getting involved in some of these tackles. That’s the best way to say it, it was encouraging,”"
It’s great that Okudah is fully healthy and striving to be perfect–so much so that he mentions one negative play in a preseason game, when he had not played a game in so long and was certainly a little rusty. He’s allowed a little bit of grace and positive reinforcement coming off a major injury during or after his first game back, and Campbell offered some.