"I think he’s trending in the right direction, just like everybody on this defense is right now," Undlin said Tuesday. "We’ve played three games, about to play the fourth here. And with every rep he gets — I think I’ve said this before, I’m a strong believer, especially for rookies, there’s no substitute for experience. The more you play, the more it slows down for you."
He has spent a large portion of those games matched up with top wide receivers Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins, and while he has given up far too many catches, he also had his first interception last week in Arizona.
"When you’re a rookie, it’s your first time - a lot," Undlin said. "Until you’ve played in another divisional game that you’ve already played somebody, it’s all new for those guys. For him running out there this week, obviously which is another new experience for him, he’d done it one time. Now, he’s got another game under his belt. There were some good things in there, obviously. Excited for the interception, for the whole team. Definitely helped us there on that drive as they were moving."
Specifically, Undlin said Okudah "seemed (to be) in a different place" from a "mental body language" standpoint against the Cardinals than he was during his wide-eye debut against the Packers.
Lions coach Matt Patricia said Monday that Okudah still has to "settle down and keep working on his conditioning" after pulling himself out of the game twice last week. And Okudah could return to a reserve role this week against the New Orleans Saints, when Desmond Trufant is expected back from a hamstring injury.
But overall, Undlin said he likes what he has seen from the No. 3 overall pick.
"There’s obviously a bunch of things in there, too, that we’ve got to correct, just like there is with everybody," Undlin said. "I like where he’s going. Is he there yet? Nope, not even close. I would tell him the same thing. A lot of work to still be done. But is he trending in the right direction? I would say, yes."
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Jeff Okudah trending in right direction after 2 starts