Jeff Okudah leaves home opener early
There were a lot of questions being asked of the Detroit Lions coming into the 2021 campaign and even more after their home opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Despite losing 41-33, the Lions were able to keep things interesting in the fourth quarter as they attempted to mount an enormous comeback.
However, the game was not the only loss on the day for the Lions as they also saw starting cornerback Jeff Okudah leave in the fourth quarter with an apparent Achilles injury.
“We’re checking him out now,” Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell said following the game, via the Detroit Free Press. “We know obviously it’s somewhere around the ankle. Could be Achilles.”
Okudah was hurt with just over 10 minutes left to play in the contest, but did manage to limp off the field under his own power.
This is the second season in the National Football League for Okudah who was selected by Detroit with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He had a disappointing rookie season, allowing for a 77.4% completion rate for attempted passes in his coverage area and ended the campaign on injured reserve after being forced to undergo a groin surgery. He featured in a total of nine games last year and was hoping for a better start to the season.
Against the 49ers on Sunday, the youngster had four tackles and one pass breakup but was responsible for a 79-yard touchdown pass caught by Deebo Samuel.
“The long one we all saw,” Campbell said of the play. “We got the pressure that we wanted on (49ers quarterback Jimmy) Garoppolo. He just, the ball gets fluttered up in the air, a long one, and Jeff just didn’t get his eyes around and they made a play on the ball and it hurt. It hurt us.”
“It was just, I would say for Jeff it was an up-and-down game. He flashes on a few plays, you’re like, ‘Whoa, OK, there he is, and next thing you know, it’s something happens. That’s – and I don’t want to make excuses, but at the same time, he’s in Year 2. And he made some young errors, is what he did.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions next week either as they travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers on Monday Night Football. The Packers were embarrassed 38-3 in their week one affair against the New Orleans Saints and will be eager to send a message to the rest of the league that they are better than they showed.
Detroit is looking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, but the challenge becomes that much more daunting without a healthy Okudah in the starting lineup. It remains to be seen just how long the 22-year-old will be out for, but regardless it is not how the player nor the team envisioned the season starting. Over the next four weeks, the Lions will play all three NFC North rivals.