Falcons expect cornerback Jeff Okudah to return from ankle injury early in season

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah is expected to return early this season after suffering a right ankle injury in Friday’s practice.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith said Saturday the team received “very positive news” on Okudah.

“We think he has a great chance to be back in the early part of the season,” Smith said. “We feel really good for Jeff, all things considered.”

The report from Smith was good news after Okudah had to be carted off the field on Friday, unable to put weight on his foot.

The Falcons acquired Okudah, the No. 3 overall NFL draft pick in 2020, from Detroit for a fifth-round draft pick as part of their offseason overhaul of the defense.

Injuries have hindered Okudah early in his career. He was limited by hamstring and shoulder injuries to nine games as a rookie with Detroit. The former Ohio State standout suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury one game into his second season.

Okudah started 15 games for the Lions in 2022 and had an interception, which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown, and a forced fumble with 73 tackles.

Okudah was working with A.J. Terrell as Atlanta’s first-team cornerbacks. Smith expressed confidence in the team’s depth at the position on Friday. Among candidates to fill in for Okudah are Tre Flowers, Mike Hughes, rookie Clark Phillips III, Dee Alford and Darren Hall.


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