Dan Campbell names Jeff Okudah the starting CB opposite Amani Oruwariye

The Dan Campbell postgame press conference following his Detroit Lions’ preseason-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have the bombastic soundbite many were looking for. But it did bequeath the answer to one of the most critical questions that has surrounded the Lions all summer.

Campbell would not bite on repeated efforts to get him to say anything definitive on the backup quarterback front, but he did effectively anoint Jeff Okudah as the winner of the starting CB battle with Will Harris.

“I thought he did some good things,” Campbell responded when asked about Okudah’s performance. “I feel like he’s been trending in the right direction now for two weeks. So I would say he finished up strong and he’s going in the right direction.”

Okudah did play well in the first half, a stanza where the Lions defense performed pretty impressively despite the wildly ineffective offense repeatedly making things difficult for them. Okudah finished with two tackles and did not allow a completion.

Campbell then turned the follow-up question on Okudah into a declaration of a position battle won.

The coach was asked directly if it was fair to say Okudah is the starting cornerback.

“Yeah I would say that,” Campbell quickly affirmed. “I would say it’s looking like that. There’s nothing after these two weeks that would tell me that’s not his job right now.”

Okudah’s competition, Will Harris, was guilty of a bad pass interference penalty in Pittsburgh. He also earned some praise from Campbell, who said, “Now Will’s done a good job out there as well.”

Campbell then laid out Harris’ value as a utility back, one capable of playing outside, in the slot and on special teams.

“His versatility is something we really value as well,” Campbell said of Harris, which definitely came across as further admission that Okudah will be the starting outside CB across from vet Amani Oruwariye.

It’s a positive validation for Okudah, who missed all but the first half of Week 1 in 2021 before tearing his Achilles in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The no. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft struggled as a rookie, between a sports hernia and poor personality fit with then-coach Matt Patricia.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire

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