Cornerback Jeff Okudah admitted he woke up a little more sore than usual on Monday after his 15-tackle performance last week against Dallas.
Asked if he's ever had 15 tackles in a game, he thought about it for a minute and said he couldn't remember ever being involved in that many tackles in a single game.
Okudah was all over the field against the Cowboys, highlighted by one particular play where he came clear from the other side of the formation on a reverse handoff to wide receiver KaVontae Turpin to make a tackle.
Because of some of the Cowboys' offensive alignments and them not having a receiver on his side, Okudah aligned inside in the box more than usual to support the run game on the backside, and he consistently made play after play. Okudah was in the box on 18 snaps Sunday in Dallas, per Pro Football Focus statistics, the most this season.
"I think that really tells you how tough a defense you have," defensive line coach Todd Wash said this week about a cornerback like Okudah coming up and playing as well as he did in support of the run. "I learned this from coach (Monte) Kiffin a long, long time ago. If your corners come up and tackle, you've got a good run defense. And Jeff did an unbelievable job last week. How we were fitting him, it was shoot tackles, and he was coming up being physical. A lot of credit to him and the work he put in."
Okudah's 15 tackles are the most in a single game by a Lions cornerback since at least 1994. For the season, Okudah has 39 tackles, one tackle for loss and three defended passes. He has yet to give up a touchdown in his coverage area through six games.
It's easy to see he's playing with a ton of confidence right now.
"I think it's building every single week," Okudah said this week of his confidence level. "For me, the biggest thing I can do is the longer I can stay on the field, the more my confidence is going to continue to increase. Probably the most consecutive games I've played since I've been in the NFL and my confidence is getting higher every single week."
Okudah and the Lions' defense will certainly be tested this week against a potent Miami offense that features two of the top five leading receivers on the season in Tyreek Hill (773 receiving yards; leads NFL) and Jaylen Waddle (621; fourth).
Okudah said he's never covered Hill, who is arguably the fastest player in the league, but is looking forward to the challenge. One of the guys he's been talking to is veteran cornerback Mike Hughes, who played with Hill in Kansas City.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, October 27, 2022.
"Since I've been in the league I haven't really covered someone like that," Okudah said of Hill and his world-class speed. "I'm really going to lean on the guys that have (covered) him in our room. I know Mike was in Kansas City, so he's been able to see him live at practice. Going to lean on the guys that played against him and have a little bit more experience on his style of play and kind of make my plan based on that."
It should be a terrific matchup Sunday between Okudah and Hill at Ford Field.
After dealing with injuries his first two seasons, Okudah is playing like a No. 3 overall pick to start 2022. He's been really good, highlighted by his performance last week in Dallas. The Lions will need that to continue if this defense is going to continue the upward trajectory we've seen from that unit their last two games.