It’s not a huge surprise given his injury and a short week, but Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah will not play on Thanksgiving Day against the Buffalo Bills.
The Detroit Lions are riding high after Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, their third straight win to put them on the fringe of the NFC playoff picture at 4-6. But cornerback Jeff Okudah left the game with a concussion after a hard collision with teammate Will Harris.
While he tweeted that he was “good” shortly after exiting the game, Okudah’s got a short window to be cleared in time to play Thanksgiving Day against the Buffalo Bills. The NFL’s heightened concussion protocols makes in virtually impossible for him to suit up.
After the game on Sunday, Lions head coach Dan Campbell basically confirmed Okudah will miss Thursday’s game.
"No,” Campbell said when asked if there was enough time for Okudah to get cleared by Thursday. “He’ll be out I’m pretty sure. We just talked about it; I don’t think there is any way possible he can play.”"
Absence of Jeff Okudah will leave Lions without their best corner against Josh Allen
It’s a five-stage process for a player to clear concussion protocol, ending with being cleared by an independent neurologist after full practice participation and experiencing contact without symptoms.
The Lions have had a player taken out of a game due to a concussion in five straight games now. The previous four–Amon-Ra St. Brown, Brock Wright, Kerby Joseph and DeShon Elliott–were cleared in time for the next game. But those four also had (and needed) a normal, full week to get cleared, which Okudah does not have the benefit of this week.
With Okudah out, Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes and Amani Oruwariye will be Detroit’s top three cornerbacks against Bills quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and one of the better offenses in the league.
It’s fair to assume Okudah will be cleared in plenty of time for Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the extra time after Thursday. So his breakthrough season will hopefully only be halted for a game, on a short week against against a tough opponent, before he’s back on the field and playing as well as he has been all season.