There have been a lot of milestones cornerback Jeff Okudah has had to check off his list in the 11-month journey back from an Achilles injury that ended his 2021 season after just one game.
Okudah has surpassed each of those milestones with flying colors, including the most recent, winning a starting job Week 1 opposite Amani Oruwariye at outside cornerback.
It's been a long journey for Okudah. He admitted he didn't know if he'd be the same player on the other side of it, but he said Thursday he's actually stronger and faster than he was pre-injury. He's proud of the way he's handled the journey, but is keeping the mentality that his journey is still a long way from finished.
"I still have a lot more to accomplish," he said. "I'm proud, but at the same time I'm as motivated as ever and as hungry as ever because I don't think that I've come close to accomplishing my goals."
Okudah has really come on strong since the second day of joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts in mid-August.
"I think these last two weeks things have really picked up," he said. "Feeling really comfortable in the direction I'm trending."
Comfortable and confident go hand and hand, and we're seeing a confident Okudah on the football field right now. The Lions are certainly hoping that continues right into next week's season opener against the Eagles.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes was asked this week what position group he had his eye on during the start of camp. He brought up the secondary. The way Okudah played through camp has Holmes feeling much better about that unit.
"I appreciate the way Jeff Okudah responded and he was challenged, and he earned it," Holmes said. "And we were upfront and honest with him and he didn't cower, back down or anything, he took it and he earned it. So, a lot of those questions were answered and it was much appreciated."
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
Okudah has trusted in the plan and his rehab, and he's also appreciated the way the team supported him and gave him an opportunity to compete for his starting job back once healthy.
"Them believing in the rehab process and the work that I was putting in and giving me the opportunity to compete, that goes a long way" Okudah said. "On my end, I just want to make sure I do right by them."