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Notes: Lions CB Jeff Okudah running again 5 months after Achilles injury

Okudah’s rehabilitation has reached the running phase.

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Washington Football Team v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah likely still has a long way to go in his recovery from an Achilles injury suffered back in early September, but he’s made one significant step in his rehabilitation.

On Tuesday, Okudah posted to his Instagram stories a video of himself running at a pretty serious pace over mini hurdles. The caption to the video read, “2/22/22, Day 159.” Clearly, Okudah is taking this rehabilitation seriously.

We haven’t heard from Okudah since he suffered his injury in Week 1 of the season, but several coaches and teammates provided scattered updates throughout the year.

“Jeff’s doing a nice job in his rehab,” general manager Brad Holmes said in January. “What I love about him is he wanted to stay engaged and be around as much as possible. I just hated it for him when he got the injury because he was in such a good place, just mentally and physically, and when he got hurt it was devastating. But it was another part of we had to live with, you know, next man up. But we expect Jeff to be back with us and I know he’s right on track. He’s in a good spot.”

The recovery process for an Achilles injury is one of the longest of all sports injuries. It often takes players over a full year to get back to full strength. Recently, Rams running back Cam Akers provided an inspirational journey, remarkably making his way back onto the field just over five months after suffering an Achilles tear. That being said, his recovery—excellently broken down by The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue here—required an experimental treatment. It’s unclear if Okudah is going through anything similar.

That being said, he looks like he’s well on his way to playing in 2022.

“One of my first conversations with coach (Dan) Campbell we were in stretch lines at practice and he walks up and goes, ‘Hey man, how you doing? Coach Campbell. We’re ready to get you rolling on special teams right away and the quicker you learn this defense the quicker you’ll be out there on this field.

“That was kind of the first time that a head coach would say something of that nature to me. Straight up with me. Very refreshing. It was different than what I was used to.”

  • On Monday night, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler seemed to suggest the Saints’ new defensive coordinator may come from an internal promotion. That would mean Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is set to return to Detroit. However, the language still leaves a chance Pleasant is hired.

  • I wanted to close this out by talking about Neil Bulson. You probably don’t recognize the name, but you may recognize his Twitter handle @armchairlb or the website of the same name. Unfortunately, Neil was taken from us the Saturday before the Super Bowl when he died unexpectedly.

I owe my entire writing career to Neil, because he had been blogging about the Detroit Lions for well over a decade, and he, along with Ty Schalter, were huge inspirations to me. They proved that sports writing didn’t have to be a rote experience, and the fan perspective was worth its weight in gold to serious diehards like me.

At the time, I had never read anything like Neil. He wrote beautifully. He wrote with passion. He wrote with his damn loins. The crudeness likely drew some people away, but that raw, guttural emotion is exactly what drew me in. Neil was explicit, but it never felt forced or gratuitous. Sometimes Lions fandom did feel like Failure Demons were tearing us limb from limb and feeding on our entrails.

I’m not great at expressing emotions or offering tributes. At times on this website, I tried to emulate Neil by sneaking some creative writing here, but immediately stopped and left it to the pros.

I was, and remain, absolutely heartbroken about Neil’s passing. If you knew of Neil, or even if you didn’t, I highly recommend this worthy tribute of Neil’s life by Schalter.