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NOTEBOOK: Okudah navigating highs & lows of rookie season

Rookie Jeff Okudah saw his reps decline last week as the Lions finally got healthy at the cornerback position for the first time this season. Veteran Desmond Trufant and second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye started last week vs. Washington, and Okudah mixed into a rotation with Oruwariye, who ended up playing 54 snaps to Okudah's 34.

Okudah said he wasn't naïve coming in as a rookie. He knew there were going to be highs and lows. The game continues to slow down for him, and he sees the improvement he's making.

He admitted it's tough to get into a rhythm being in a rotation with Oruwariye and playing different packages, but it's just part of adapting to an unusual year that saw him and the rest of the rookies start their NFL careers without OTAs, joint practices and the preseason to help prepare them.

"It's kind of just part of the experience. Kind of embracing a new challenge and put your best foot forward and then you make the most of the situation," Okudah said.

Oruwariye has played more consistent football through the first nine games and has earned playing time. Okudah will still work in there, and this could be what the cornerback position looks like the rest of the way when everyone is healthy.

Okudah's had an up and down start to his rookie campaign. He's been strong against the run and plays a physical brand of football that shows up on Sunday, but opposing passers are completing 72.7 percent of their passes against him with a 108.1 passer rating, per Pro Football Focus statistics. He's allowed only one touchdown and he's got an interception.

"I think it's definitely been a learning process," Okudah said Thursday of his season up to this point. "From the first game to where I'm at right now, I think that I've learned a lot of invaluable lessons throughout this whole experience and I'm really excited to see what these last seven games that we're guaranteed have in store for me."


Rookie running back D’Andre Swift has suffered a concussion and missed Thursday's practice, which puts his availability for Sunday's game in Carolina in doubt.

There are certain benchmarks players in the concussion protocol have to make to be able to return, like being symptom free after a full workout and then a contact practice, and it's unclear if Swift will be able to pass those benchmarks with just one practice and a Saturday walkthrough left before Sunday.

Swift made his first career start Week 10 vs. Washington and had a career-high 21 touches and 149 scrimmage yards, including a touchdown reception.

If he can't go, expect Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson to fill the void.

It was also worth noting that wide receiver Kenny Golladay sat out Thursday after being a limited participant on Wednesday. That's typically not what teams want to see with a player trying to come back from injury. Golladay's missed the last two games with a hip injury.

In all there were 14 Lions players on Thursday's practice report.


Lions veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. penned a heartfelt letter to his children in the Players' Tribune this week about the passing of his youngest child, Marlo, last year.

There's not a lot of commentary I want to provide outside of the link to Jones’ letter. It speaks for itself.

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