Leaving a difficult rookie season behind him, Jeff Okudah is determined to prove his worth in 2021.
The 2020 third overall pick faced some intense pressure in his first year, as being selected so high comes with some big expectations. His season was plagued with injuries and less-than-stellar coaching, but at training camp Thursday, Okudah said 2021 is about turning it all around.
“I have high standards for myself so I’m looking to uphold those standards but to be honest, I’m more so determined to prove my worth to my teammates, prove my worth to the coaches, really prove my worth to the city of Detroit — put out a product that they can be proud of,” he said.
Putting out a great product for Detroit fans near and far has been a common theme among the new Lions regime. I specifically remember it being a large part of new general manager Brad Holmes’ introductory press conference. It’s one thing to want to prove your worth in general, but it sounds like Okudah is falling in line with a new team culture to prove themselves to the Detroit Lions community — something fans have longed to hear for years.
Entering his first season in 2020, Okudah was among the rookies tasked with making the jump from college to the NFL without the typical training due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed Thursday how thankful he is to actually get some preseason work in this year to smooth out some of the kinks before taking the field.
“Last season was really weird in the fact that my last game was that December 2019 against Clemson and then I didn’t play again until September against Green Bay,” he said. “Just being able to end the season, have an OTA period, have a training thing where I can go and pinpoint all the weaknesses and work at them and then come into training camp, I think that’s been a great help.”
That training has included working with pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. The Flint native has already had an impact on the cornerback hoping to make his mark.
“Before training camp I just sent him a text thanking him for all the work he’s put in with me throughout the course of 2021 and obviously I’ve seen the improvements already so just having him by my side, having coach (Aaron Glenn) by my side, I think that’s been great for me,” he said.
And onto the rest of your notes.
- If you didn’t get enough training camp Day 2 coverage from our observations, story on unity via up-downs, and second-day standout players, then you can get even more camp content from The Athletic (subscription required), The Detroit News, MLive, The Detroit Free Press (subscription required), and detroitlions.com.
- Around the NFL’s Gregg Rosenthal offers a 2021 breakout candidate for each team. For the Lions, surprisingly it’s not Jeff Okudah, but a coach.
- Pro Football Focus released their latest tight end rankings and naturally T.J. Hockenson remains fairly high in their list of top 32 in the league. Of note, PFF also published their latest safety, cornerback, running back, and wide receiver top 32 rankings.... No Lions on any of those.
- Speaking of - show some love. Hock at the 0:50 mark:
They may be big, but their feet are QUICK.— NFL (@NFL) July 29, 2021
Which TE has the best routes in the league? pic.twitter.com/XCON9pAPGi
- After years as a defensive end, Trey Flowers is tasked with adjusting to the new role of linebacker this season. Mlive’s Benjamin Raven has more on the growing pains.
- The Lions tackle another controversial topic — does pineapple belong on pizza?