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O'HARA: Okudah learning the value of having a short memory on the field

Cornerback Jeff Okudah is learning the value of having a short memory as he is about to begin his second season with the Detroit Lions.

A misplay by Okudah early in the first quarter led to the Steelers' first touchdown in a 26-20 win over the Lions Saturday night.

The loss made the Lions win-loss record 0-2 in the preseason. Okudah's play was magnified by the way the Steelers dominated the first half. They had a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Okudah misread the play in a situation where the Steelers had third and three at their 25 on their second possession and the game still scoreless.

Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson took advantage of Okudah's misplay to get a lead off the line of scrimmage and make a 43-yard catch at the Lions' 32 with Okudah in pursuit.

Six plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth with an 11-yard pass for the Steelers' first touchdown.

Okudah bounced back to make two good plays later in the first half.

Okudah and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin combined to stop a run on second and goal at the six (the Steelers scored their second TD on the next play), and later in the half Okudah batted away a third-down pass in the end zone meant for JuJu Smith Schuster.

To Okudah's credit, he put the mistake on Johnson's catch behind him and made those two good plays. He didn't dwell on them.

"You've got to take every play as its own play," he said. "Don't try to compound plays. That's how you have snowballs, avalanches, trying to compound bad plays, and it leads to another one.

"It's something I have to work on. It's something that A.P. (secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant) and A.G. (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) have talked about -- having a short memory.

"A lot of great players have played this game. Having a short memory, trying not to take everything so personal. Just be able to be ready to make the next play."

Okudah didn't brush away the bad play on Johnson or pretend it didn't happen. He owned up to it with head coach Dan Campbell on the sideline.

"He knew it was self-inflicted, and that I know better than that," Okudah said.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Campbell wants his player to learn from mistakes, but not become overly cautious.

"I want those guys to cut it loose," he said. "Cornerbacks and quarterbacks have to have a short-term memory. I don't want to see our cornerbacks sulking and kicking dirt."

Keeping a next-play mindset helped Okudah break up the pass in the end zone that was meant for Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster went in motion to Okudah's side of the field. Okudah had good coverage and read his keys to break up the pass.

"Playing through the hands is the best bet," he said. "At that point, you're keying the hands, keying the receiver's eyes. The eyes tell the whole story. A lot of times receivers, for the most part, when the ball's coming their eyes tend to get bigger."

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