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#pounditMonday, November 28, 2022

Lions CB makes tough admission about his Achilles injury

Jeff Okudah on the field

Nov 15, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (30) before the game against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

During a season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers last year, Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah suffered a ruptured Achilles. It was a devastating injury, but Okudah tried to remain positive after learning the diagnosis.

That positivity was short-lived. Although Okudah managed to put on a brave face for his teammates, it faded the second he slid into his aunt’s car following the game.

“The second I got into the car with my aunt, I just broke down and started crying,” Okudah said, via The Detroit News. “She had never really seen me cry before, but it was a lot of like — I just had big hopes for that last year. So that day I was really down. It kind of felt like I was living a nightmare, honestly, man.”

Okudah had struggled as a rookie in 2020, but entered the 2021 season as a more confident and competent player. He was in good shape physically and mentally, and felt primed for a breakout year. But that ended in short order.

The good news for Okudah is that sports medicine has advanced significantly in recent years. No longer was a ruptured Achilles considered career-ending. In fact, repair and rehab have become so effective that athletes are returning from injuries faster than ever.

But that only addresses one part of the issue. The mental struggle is the other part.

“Man, the mental aspect is definitely, probably (tougher),” Okudah said. “The rehab is going to be a strenuous process, but something you’re really accustomed to being an athlete, especially playing a sport this long. Mentally, it’s tough, just because you’re out of your routine. Getting hurt in Week 1, it’s a long season. Sitting down for 16 weeks, you have a lot of time to just reflect, self-evaluate. On the bright side, you’re able to really look at yourself, have honest conversations with people around you, and plan a comeback, plan a comeback you can be proud of.”

Okudah is now nine months removed from his injury and although he’s wearing a red non-contact jersey during OTA practices, things are progressing. No one on the team has provided a timetable for his return, but there is hope Okudah will be ready come Week 1.

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