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Jeff Okudah 'Hungry' to Return in 2022

Jeff Okudah will be entering his third season in the NFL in 2022.

Jeff Okudah is hopeful the next couple of seasons in the National Football League will turn out significantly better than his first two. 

After being drafted No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the ex-Buckeyes defensive back learned quickly that battling the top wideouts in the league was a massive step-up from battling against Big Ten receivers. 

His rookie season was marred by numerous injuries, and then he chose to finally undergo groin surgery near the end of his rookie campaign. 

In 2021, the 22-year-old tore his Achilles in the first game of the season against the San Francisco 49ers, costing him the entirety of his sophomore campaign. 


"Listen, he wanted to be around as much as he could be. He reached out to me a couple of times just about wanting to be around the team and (to) still feel like he was a part of it," Detroit head coach Dan Campbell said. "And, he’s been up here rehabbing, he’s been working. And look, he’s hungry. I mean, he’s ready to go. 

"He’s ready to take the next step into his rehab and physically get ready to hit the offseason running. It’s good. Look, it’s one of those unfortunate things where injury has struck again. But, all you can do is try to come back better than ever and have yourself 100 percent ready to go. And so look, he’s of the right mindset. That’s all you can ask for in a player.”

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Cornerback Amani Oruwariye emerged in Okudah's absence, and the next step in his career is to become a shutdown cornerback, according to defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. 

"I’m just excited for his (Okudah's) future," Oruwariye said Monday. "I can’t wait to see cause people, it’s been two years and people still don’t know what Jeff Okudah can do. I’ve seen it. It’s just time for the world to really see."

Losing Okudah was tough, but the silver lining was that several young players in the secondary earned an opportunity to see playing time they otherwise would not have received, had there not been a rash of injuries. 

Detroit's secondary saw the emergence of Oruwariye, along with AJ Parker, Jerry Jacobs and Ifeatu Melifonwu

"Jeff's doing a nice job in his rehab. What I love about him is that he wanted to stay engaged and be around as much as possible," Lions general manager Brad Holmes said. "I just hate it for him when he got the injury, because he was in such a good place, just mentally and physically. When he got hurt, it was just devastating."

Holmes continued, "But, it was part of. It was another part of what we had to live with -- the next man up. But, we expect Jeff to be back with us, and I know that he's right on track. He's in a good spot."