Up-and-down game ends with possible Achilles injury for Detroit Lions CB Jeff Okudah

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Jeff Okudah started his second NFL season much the same way he ended his first - inconsistent and injured.

Okudah suffered a lower left leg injury in the Detroit Lions' season-opening 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers that head coach Dan Campbell said could be an Achilles tendon injury.

Okudah was hurt with just over 10 minutes left in Sunday's fourth quarter, on a play that happened away from the ball.

He limped off the field under his own power, and after briefly being examined by trainers on the sideline, hobbled 50 or so yards to a medical cart waiting in the tunnel, which transported him to the locker room.

Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah walks off the field due to an injury during the second half of the 41-33 loss to the 49ers Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.
Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah walks off the field due to an injury during the second half of the 41-33 loss to the 49ers Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.

Trainers examined the back of Okudah's left ankle while he was on the sideline.

"We’re checking him out now," Campbell said. "We know obviously it’s somewhere around the ankle. Could be Achilles. We’ll know a lot more here tomorrow morning."

The No. 3 pick of the 2020 NFL draft, Okudah had a rough rookie season in Detroit. He allowed a 77.4% completion rate on balls thrown in his coverage area, and finished the season on injured reserve after undergoing groin surgery.

Okudah looked like a better, more confident player in training camp, even with some obvious hiccups in preseason games.

On Sunday, he made four tackles and had one pass breakup, but gave up a 79-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel and was captured by TV cameras getting yelled at by secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant after a 49ers rushing touchdown.

Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah on the field during training camp in Allen Park on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah on the field during training camp in Allen Park on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

On Samuel's long score, Okudah had good coverage on the play, but turned late and overran an underthrown pass then stumbled to the ground as Samuel raced to the end zone.

"The long one we all saw," Campbell said. "We got the pressure that we wanted on (49ers quarterback Jimmy) Garoppolo. He just, the ball gets fluttered up in the air, a long one, and Jeff just didn’t get his eyes around and they made a play on the ball and it hurt. It hurt us.

"It was just, I would say for Jeff it was an up-and-down game. He flashes on a few plays, you’re like, 'Whoa, OK, there he is,; and next thing you know, it’s something happens. That’s – and I don’t want to make excuses, but at the same time, he’s in Year 2. And he made some young errors, is what he did."

The Lions are extremely young in the secondary with Okudah (Year 2) and Amani Oruwariye (Year 3) as starting cornerbacks, and rookies A.J. Parker, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Jerry Jacobs as the top reserves. Melifonwu, a third-round pick out of Syracuse, finished the game in Okudah's absence Sunday.

If Okudah misses significant time, the Lions could sign Nickell Robey-Coleman off the practice squad or add another veteran cornerback off the street.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Jeff Okudah being checked for Achilles injury