PITTSBURGH – New Lions safety DeShon Elliott has known third-year cornerback Jeff Okudah since high school, with both players being from the Dallas area.
Elliott said one of his first tasks after signing with the Lions as a free agent this offseason was to see if he could help bring the best out of Okudah.
"I told Jeff today he has the talent," Elliott said after Detroit's 19-9 loss to the Steelers in the preseason finale. "He has the talent to be a top five cornerback in the NFL. I told him the only thing he needs to work on is mental. He has to take care of himself. If Jeff Okudah takes care of himself, and grows mentally, he can be the best corner in this league."
Over the last couple weeks Okudah has been playing good football. Head coach Dan Campbell said after the game Sunday that Okudah has earned the starting spot opposite Amani Oruwariye at outside cornerback.
"I thought he did some good things," Campbell said. "I feel like he's been trending in the right direction now for two weeks."
Okudah had a couple tackles, a tackle for loss and a key pass breakup on a third-down play in the first half that forced a Steelers field goal.
This has been a really important training camp for Okudah as he's tried to overcome two years of injury, and show people why he was the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2020.
Oruwariye had a breakout third season last year with the Lions, finishing third in the league in interceptions and proving he can be a No. 1-caliber cornerback. If the Lions can get a similar performance from Okudah in his third season, the Lions secondary should be much improved.
"That just allows us to solidify one other spot outside," safety Tracy Walker said of Okudah. "We have Amani already, who is going to go out there and make his plays, and with Jeff being confident and coming out here playing the way he needs to play, we're a secondary that's really going to have it."
View photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions Preseason Week 3 game at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 28 in Pittsburgh, PA.
BACKUP QB CLARITY
Both Tim Boyle and David Blough got one more opportunity to make a final impression to be Jared Goff's backup heading into the season.
Boyle was 3-of-8 passing for 25 yards with an interception and a 6.8 passer rating when playing with the starters. Blough was 4-for-7 for 50 yards with a 79.5 rating playing with the first-team offense.
Blough finished the game playing in the second and fourth quarters and was 17-of-32 passing for 160 yards with a touchdown and a 77.6 passer rating.
Boyle started the first and second halves and finished 5-of-15 for 64 yards with an interception and 19.9 passer rating.
"Here's what I would say, I think it became very clear," head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "I think we got things answered and I would leave it at that. I just feel like we got a lot of clarity."
Pressed whether that meant he made a decision on one of his own players, or will be looking at Wednesday's waiver wire for help at quarterback, Campbell didn't want to elaborate.
"I want to talk to (GM) Brad (Holmes) and I want to talk to the coaches, but I know just myself watching, I got a lot of clarity," he said.
BACKUP RUNNING BACKS
With D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams sitting out Sunday, the rest of Detroit's backs vying for reserve roles and roster spots got a lot of work. Justin Jackson had eight carries for 44 yards. Craig Reynolds had six carries for 31 yards. And Jermar Jefferson had six for 28, with a long run of 27 yards.
"I feel like there was some separation that showed up there as well, which is good to see," Campbell said after the game. "All three of those guys did something pretty good. Craig Reynolds goes into the game and makes something happen. JJ (Jackson) on the edge. Look, Jefferson had some runs in the middle, but I do think there was a separation that took place in that room."
GOFF GOOD TO GO
Goff hasn't taken part in practice this week, and didn't play Sunday, but that was by design. He's not dealing with any type of injury, per Campbell. It was just rest, and Campbell said he'll be back throwing this week when the team resumes practice and start preparations for the Philadelphia Eagles Week 1.