The announcement seemed inevitable with the way training camp had been going, but on Sunday night after the Detroit Lions loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Dan Campbell announced that former third overall pick Jeff Okudah has won the starting cornerback job over Will Harris.
“I feel like he has been trending in the right direction now for two weeks,” Campbell said of Okudah at the post-game press conference. “So, I would say he finished up strong and he’s going in the right direction.”
So has Okudah locked up the starting cornerback spot opposite Amani Oruwariye?
“Yeah,” Campbell said. “I would say that. I would say it’s looking like that. There’s nothing after these two weeks to tell me that that’s not his job right now.”
Okudah has had a tough road recovering from Achilles surgery less than a year ago, and while he took some time to reacclimate at the beginning of training camp, he has looked very sharp of late, separating himself from Will Harris.
“Very pleased (with where Okudah is),” Campbell continued. “He’s been able to come back out and that’s been a tough battle with Will out there... Love where Jeff’s going. Love how he did step up to the challenge. He answered the bell. He wasn’t afraid of the competition and he went after it. And now I’d say, he’s earned himself a spot.”
As for Harris, the competition between him and Okudah was legitimately tight in early August, but he didn’t progress at the same pace. That being said, Harris’ positional versatility still makes him a very valuable asset for the team.
“Will has done a good job out there as well now,” Campbell said. “We know Will can play out there, but we think there’s other things Will can do for us as well. Besides special teams, he can probably play a little nickel for us, he can play some dime, so his versatility is something that we really value as well.”