Compared to their opponents, the Falcons have been relatively healthy.
In the season opener, the Panthers were dealing with a slew of injuries, mostly to their receiving core. Last week, the Packers were missing their three best offensive players — David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Christian Watson.
And that doesn’t seem to be changing this week. As the Falcons prepare to travel to Detroit, the Lions are nursing a handful of injuries. C.J. Gardner-Johnson and James Houston are on injured reserve; David Montgomery said he’d need weeks to come back from a thigh bruise, but Dan Campbell told reporters he was day-to-day. Taylor Decker missed the Week 2 contest against the Seahawks, while Halapoulivaati Vaitai is dealing with a knee injury.
On the flip side, the Falcons have been pretty healthy, only missing Cordarrelle Patterson and Jeff Okudah for both of their games. Troy Andersen joined them for the Packers game, but it seems all of them have an excellent chance of returning in Week 3.
For Okudah, it’ll be his Falcons debut, which would poetically come against his former team. The Lions selected the Ohio State product with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, where he was undoubtedly regarded as the best cornerback prospect.
Ironically, that’s the same cycle the Falcons landed A.J. Terrell, who has gone on to have more success than both corners selected before him — Okudah and C.J. Henderson.
Okudah’s time in Detroit was marred by injuries, only appearing in nine games his rookie year, then a torn Achilles kept him out for most of the 2021 season. Though he is coming off the best campaign of his career, injuries have once again kept him off the field.
An ankle injury has kept Okudah out for more than a month, but the Falcons secondary has more than held their own with Tre Flowers taking his starting spot. The veteran Flowers had a rough outing against the Packers; however, Atlanta’s defense pitched a fourth-quarter shutout.
There seems to be optimism within the organization that Jeff Okudah could return after practicing in a limited capacity last week.
“(Cordarrelle Patterson) is trending in the right direction – same with Jeff,” Smith said. “You guys saw him at practice. Nothing to hide there. You guys are there every day.”
Making his Falcons debut, opposite of his draft classmate and friend in A.J. Terrell, against his former team who he wants to prove were wrong to trade him is quite the story for Jeff Okudah.
Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire