Confident Detroit Lions Cornerback Jeff Okudah Will Be Ready for Training Camp – Detroit Lions Blog

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions are confident cornerback Jeff Okudah will be ready for training camp ahead of the 2022 season.

Okudah, the No. 3 pick overall in the 2020 draft, suffered a season-ending left Achilles tendon tear early in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s 2021 opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Now that he’s on his way back to the field, the organization is as focused on the trust aspect of his recovery as it is on the physical process.

“It’s the biggest thing right now,” said Lions coach Dan Campbell. “We’re not worried about Jeff’s movement abilities. You watch him, with his footwork and the things he does, he can do it all.

“That’s really important right now … just to continue his spiritual growth, and he can get the walk-through reps and just get the film degree. These things are big for him right now. So it’s good to have him here, to have him available for that. When the time is right to go full throttle when we have him in stock he will be ready.”

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During the rehab process, Okudah said he reached out to NBA players John Wall, who tore his Achilles tendon in December 2018, and DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles tendon in January 2018, for advice how to recover from the injury. He also researched Achilles tears to better understand his own situation.

“You kind of gave me confidence that the Achilles tendon will be the least of your worries,” Okudah said. “It’s about getting mentally fit again, taking care of the rest of the body and for me that was really comforting going into the rehab process. From there it only attacked the rehab since November.

Okudah went into the past season with high expectations. But he admitted hitting an emotional rock bottom hours after being injured in his aunt’s car.

“When I tore my Achilles tendon, my aunt would just pick me up and I couldn’t really walk,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if it was a torn Achilles tendon, but of course I tried to remain optimistic in moments like this. But the second I got in the car with my aunt, I just broke down and started crying.

“Lots of emotions flooded through me and she’s never really seen me cry, but I had high hopes for that last year. So that day I was crushed and honestly it felt like I was living a nightmare. So it’s a blessing to be here now and smiling because I know where I’ve been mentally and I’ve come a long way.”

Okudah is capped at all organized team activities this summer. He would not set a timetable for his return but said he was confident he would be “ready when it comes time to be ready”.

Campbell said he was “very encouraged” with his rehab process.

“He attacked the surgery, the rehab, he’s been up here a lot,” Campbell said. “We saw him often. He wanted to be there. So he would be up here watching tapes with the boys, being in meetings.

“Sometimes he would come out to practice or flit around out there, so he was still engaged and wanted to be around. See he did a pretty good job with it. Again, it’s not easy, it’s hard to do, but it’s better than just completely disengaging and being away from it, and I don’t think that’s good for you either.

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