Jeff Okudah has been notably absent from big chunks of the last two games, but Dan Campbell says the young cornerback is not injured or in the doghouse.
Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah has had a breakthrough season this year, at times displaying the ability to be a shutdown corner and being excellent in run support. He battled an illness in December, which particularly diminished his effectiveness in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Okudah was not alone his struggles during the Lions’ Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He didn’t play much in the second half, but head coach Dan Campbell dismissed it was injury (or seemingly lingering illness?) related.
In Week 17 against the Chicago Bears, Okudah played just 17 of the Lions’ 51 defensive snaps. He played three special teams snaps, as Will Harris, Jerry Jacobs and Mike Hughes functioned as the top three corners. Even Amani Oruwariye played 14 defensive snaps, after playing one total defensive snap over the previous two games.
Dan Campbell suggests Jeff Okudah is healthy and not in the doghouse
Asked about Okudah being effectively benched for the last game and a half or so, via Lions Wire, Campbell dismissed any injury/illness issue and seemingly dismissed any idea Okudah is in the doghouse.
"No, I would say it was a couple of things last week we talked about,” Campbell responded. “I thought he came out ready to work. It was always about getting Mike Hughes more plays. I mean, Mike earned his right to play now too. And Okudah took some gunner reps for us because Mike was going to play more on the outside than probably Jeff was, and so they both played. No, listen, Jeff’s good. He’s helping us, man. He’s contributing.”"
Okudah saw some work as a special teams gunner against the Bears, but again it was three snaps and early observations point to him not playing a defensive snap after Chicago’s third offensive drive.
It’s worth noting Hughes played well against the Bears as an outside corner, for what it’s worth against such a limited passing offense, and it should always be a meritocracy.
Okudah was impacted by an illness, and he hadn’t very played well in two of three games before last week. So it may have been more of a reset than a benching against Chicago. A blowout win meant he didn’t have to play much, and could get that reset.
If this were six weeks ago, Okudah would be counted on to play a lot and play well against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. If he hardly plays yet again and things are status quo on the health front, then there’s more than is meeting the eye here.