Ahead of the Falcons season opener against the Panthers, Arthur Smith is optimistic regarding Jeff Okudah‘s injury, which has kept him sidelined for more than a month. Atlanta’s head coach told reporters that he’s getting close, ahead of where they thought he’d be, and it’s too early to rule him out for Sunday.
#Falcons HC Arthur Smith says Jeff Okudah "is getting close" and "ahead of where we thought he'd be."
Okudah won't practice today per Smith, who added "it's too early to rule him out" for Sunday's game vs. Carolina.
— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) September 6, 2023
All of these are fantastic updates for the Falcons starting cornerback.
This still doesn’t mean he’s going to be ready to go, but it’s the best update we’ve got on the Okudah situation. The Falcons would love to have him out there; Tre Flowers is the first one off the bench according to the club’s depth chart, and though he’s a serviceable veteran, it’s not an inspiring option.
Thankfully, the Panthers don’t have a very threatening receiving core, and Carolina is dealing with injuries in that department. DJ Chark Jr. and Terrace Marshall Jr. may not suit up, while the other options are an old Adam Theilen, a journeyman Hayden Hurst, and a second-round rookie Jonathan Mingo.
The Falcons obviously prefer Jeff Okudah to be healthy, but a bad offensive line and poor receiving core should give Atlanta’s defense confidence with or without Okudah. If a rookie quarterback in his first start with a new regime dices up this revamped defense without one starter, we’ve got bigger problems than Okudah being out.
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