Unfortunately, taking a step forward was not in the cards for Okudah and neither was playing a full season. In fact, he tore his Achilles in the very first game against the San Francisco 49ers and he has not played in a regular season game since.
Fast forward to the present and Okudah has not only made his way back from his injury, but according to head coach Dan Campbell, he has earned a starting job.
“There’s nothing after these two weeks to tell me that that’s not his job right now,” Campbell said.
Jeff Okudah is proud but knows his ‘works not finished'
“I was in California, Atlanta, Dallas, Canada. I was out here (in Detroit) for a little bit,” Okudah said. “Just looking for the best of the best. People that had the most experience with what I dealt with, and, honestly, to give myself the best (chance to rehab). I mean, you could do everything you can, but it’s really out of your control. So I tried to give myself the best chance to come back healthy.”
Okudah also spoke about what it was like to come back to football after 11 months without playing competitively.
“It’s just more of a feel thing,” Okudah said. “Just feeling things out and letting the game come to you, rather than maybe going out of your way to make a play. Just staying within your lane.”
“I think the work that I invested into that process definitely is paying dividends right now,” Okudah said. “So I’m just kind of trying to enjoy the fruits of my labor, honestly.”
Though Jeff Okudah is proud of what he has accomplished, he does not think he's come close to reaching his goals.
“I try not to be too hard on myself and just be a little bit proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, but with that being said, I still try to keep the mentality of ‘work’s not finished,’” Okudah said. “We still have a lot more to accomplish. So I’m proud, but at the same time, I’m still as motivated as ever for some reason, because I don’t think I’ve come close to accomplishing my goals.”
Nation, what are your expectations for Jeff Okudah during the 2022 season?