Lions defensive end Julian Okwara may play Week 1 vs. the Eagles

Credit: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
Credit: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images /

Amid other Lions’ defensive line injuries Julian Okwara has been easy to overlook, but there’s  some optimism he’ll play Week 1.

Amid other injuries along the Detroit Lions defensive line, including his brother Romeo, it’s been easy to forget about Julian Okwara. The younger Okwara has been out for most of training camp, and by easy connection he has not played in either preseason game to this point.

Not much has been known about Okwara’s injury, and teams don’t have to disclose the exact nature of injuries just yet. But after being deployed as an edge rusher and an off-the-ball linebacker during offseason work, any plans the Lions have for him have been put on hold.

Before Friday’s practice, head coach Dan Campbell revealed Okwara is dealing with a lower leg injury. It’s the latest in a history of leg injuries for him. A broken leg cost him his final season at Notre Dame in 2019, then he missed the last 10 games of the season as a rookie in 2020 due to a leg injury. An ankle injury cost him four games last year, when he flashed potential with five sacks in 13 games.

Julian Okwara injury update: Playing Week 1?

Via MLive, here’s what Campbell exactly said about Okwara.

"Yeah, it’s really just lower leg. We’re hoping for Philly for when he’ll be back,” Campbell said. “He’s probably got the best shot of all (the injured players) of them to be ready for Philly.”"

The other injured defensive players Campbell referred to are cornerback Jerry Jacobs, defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and safety Ifeatu Melifonwu. Okwara apparently has the best chance of the group to be ready for Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Okwara’s absence has opened the door for Austin Bryant to earn a roster spot and a substantial role, and he has run through it during practices and both preseason games thus far. But it looks like Okwara will be somewhere in the mix when the season starts, which is a good thing for him and the Lions’ defense as a whole.

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