In a fantastic player feature by Kyle Meinke of MLive, Detroit Lions edge defender Romeo Okwara revealed that his Achilles injury suffered in 2021 required a second surgery five months later after the first one didn’t take. It’s important context to Okwara’s 2022 season and where he stands now, in the final year of his three-year deal.
Okwara initially suffered his Achilles injury in early October of 2021, but he didn’t return to play until December of 2022. While it’s not entirely out of the ordinary for an Achilles injury to take over a full year of rehab, we now know that Okwara, unfortunately, had five months of rehab that ultimately went to waste when he had to have the surgery all over again.
“You’re [CLAP] doing [CLAP] all [CLAP] the [CLAP] things [CLAP] you [CLAP] can [CLAP],” Okwara told Meinke. “Then you have a setback, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you basically have to start over.’”
Even when Okwara returned to football late last season, it appears he wasn’t quite 100 percent. While he did record two sacks in five games—both against the New York Jets— he only had four tackles in the other four games he played combined. That now makes sense considering his latest surgery—done in the early months of 2022—was less than a year in the rear-view mirror.
In the excellent piece by Meinke—which you should all read right here—Okwara explains how art helped him get through what he called “the most frustrating thing that has ever happened to me.”
“You have to have something outside of that that brings you joy, that helps make you a better athlete, I think,” Okwara explained. “Because when an injury or whatever happens, you’re not in this dark spiral. It helps you cope way better. If (football) is all you do, I think that’s unhealthy as (expletive).”
Okwara enters the 2023 season more buried on the depth chart than he’s ever been in Detroit. With Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris the presumed starters, and youngsters Josh Paschal and James Houston coming off their rookie seasons, Okwara will have to fight for playing time. But as an undrafted player, that’s something he has basically done his entire NFL career, and a challenge he’s up for.
“I feel 100% healthy. I feel like I’m going to have a dominant season.”