Okudah limped off the field slowly before being carted to the locker room, with the Lions trailing big to the San Francisco 49ers early in the fourth quarter at Ford Field on Sunday.
The 2020 No. 3 overall pick was then ruled out of action with a foot injury, but an MRI on Monday confirmed the severity of it.
Okudah took to Twitter on Monday morning.
My faith in God’s plan is unwavering… The Marathon Continues. 🙏🏾
— Jeff Okudah (@jeffokudah) September 13, 2021
Lions coach Dan Campbell said he texted Okudah after Sunday’s 41-33 loss, and plans to meet with him Monday.
As a former player who dealt with injuries, Campbell can relate to the agony of the rehabilitation process, but he’ll encourage him not to sulk about it. His message will be simple: Be ready for next season.
“What are you going to do to prepare yourself for next year? That’s going to be my whole conversation with him is that your sole focus has got to be on 2022 and ‘How do I get back from this?'” Campbell said. “We’ll have this surgery and then everything has got to be about the rehab again because there’s no other way to treat it. There’s no other way to react about it. That’s the only way he’s going to get better.”
Okudah was credited with four tackles and a pass defended but was spotted on the sideline getting an earful from defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, who challenged him to play better in the first game of his second season.
“I would say for Jeff, it was an up-and-down game,” Campbell said Sunday. “He flashes on a few plays, you’re like, ‘Wow. OK, there he is.’ And then next thing you know, something happens that’s just — I don’t want to make excuses, but at the same time, he’s in Year 2. He made some young errors is what he did.”
The injury is a huge blow to Detroit’s secondary, as Okudah was coming off a strong training camp. During the offseason, he reinvented himself and developed a tight bond with Pleasant and the new regime, which was looking to get the best out of him.
Okudah’s rookie season was also cut short, as he appeared in nine games (starting six) before undergoing season-ending surgery on his groin.
“I’ve been through a lot of adverse things, and something about me is that I really don’t regret any of it because it’s led me to where I’m at right now,” Okudah told ESPN last week. “So, I’ve been really appreciative that every time that I’ve fallen, I’ve been able to get back up.”
Lions general manager Brad Holmes is also looking to add someone else soon to help the secondary, not only for in-game purposes but also for practice preparation and with overall depth.
“The guys that are still here are the guys that we like, and the only way they’re going to get better is if they play,” Campbell said.
Okudah was not the only Lions player to suffer an injury Sunday. Campbell said wide receiver Tyrell Williams has entered the NFL concussion protocol after taking a hard hit in the second half. His status for Week 2 in Green Bay remains unclear.