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Camp Notes: Okwara remains optimistic in recovery from Achilles injury

This is all new to defensive lineman Romeo Okwara.

Suffering a major injury, having to go through surgery, the extensive rehab, and the watching & waiting.

Okwara, who led Detroit with 10.0 sacks in 2020, suffered an Achilles injury Week 4 last year that ended his season and has landed him on the PUP list to begin training camp this year.

"It's definitely one of the hardest years I've ever had to deal with," Okwara said Wednesday. "This is my first major injury playing the sport. It's definitely been a mental challenge, and physically, of course.

"I miss being out here with the guys, it's definitely been really tough being on the sidelines watching. Definitely makes me want to be out there even more."

Every player heals differently, especially from a major injury like this one, but Okwara said it is encouraging to see cornerback Jeff Okudah back on the field with few restrictions having gone through the same injury a month prior to Okwara's. Okwara said Okudah was checking up on him daily, and the two became close throughout the rehab process.

Okwara also got advice from LA Rams running back Cam Akers, who suffered an Achilles injury in training camp last year and was back playing six months later during the Rams' playoff run.

Okwara has started running and said he's just putting his head down and grinding. He feels good about where he is at in the rehab process. He said it's a little too hard to predict a timetable for return at this point, but did say he expects it to be sometime during this season. He's also confident he can be the impact player he was before the injury.

"I'm very confident," Okwara said. "Guys go through this surgery all the time, especially in recent years. I'm very, very optimistic with my recovery."


Veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone is hoping to win a starting job as an interior linebacker in Detroit's defense for the second straight year. Anzalone started 14 games last year before landing on IR to end the year with a shoulder injury. He recorded 78 tackles, one sack and seven defended passes.

But missed tackles were a bit of a problem for Anzalone at times last year. He was credited with missing 21 tackles by Pro Football Focus, the third most among all linebackers last season.

"Well, look I think that's something – he knows – it's been addressed," head coach Dan Campbell said. "I think you make a point of it. We know this, he's a good enough athlete and he's smart, and he practices his ass off, and he finishes. And so, it's a matter of, 'Hey man, we've got to acknowledge it,' and he does acknowledge it."

Anzalone acknowledged it Wednesday when speaking to reporters.

"It kind of is just a focus thing," he said of the missed tackles. "When you through a season you get tired, you're playing a lot, you just have to cue in to the technique and fundamentals of everything, your pad level, your drops, your tackling. I think that's something definitely I want to improve on and something that can take me to the next level."


It looks like third-year wide receiver Quintez Cephus avoided major injury this week.

Cephus was injured during Tuesday's padded practice and needed to be helped off the field while putting little to no weight on his left leg.

"Yeah, I think he'll be OK," Campbell said of Cephus Wednesday. "It was much more optimistic once we got him in, got an image, and looks like he'll just be down for we feel like a short period of time. But I think he's going to be OK, which is good."


Left tackle Taylor Decker, running back D’Andre Swift and defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike were among the players sitting out Wednesday during a very light practice in Allen Park.

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