Jeff Okudah expected to start, but on first day with pads he lines up with reserves

Lions open season on Sept. 13 against Bears

Don’t read much into the fact that cornerback Jeff Okudah, the  Lions first-round draft pick, lined up with the reserves in the team’s first padded practice on Monday.

In the most uncommon of training camps, it’s not an uncommon move by coach Matt Patricia.

“The rookies, we’re trying to take it slow with. There’s a lot of information that they have to learn and certainly being on the field for the first time in an NFL practice with pads on,’’ Patricia said on Monday via Zoom. “There’s just a lot coming at those guys from different directions.’’

Okudah, the third overall pick, was not drafted to sit on the bench. With Patricia, though, he’ll have to earn it and compete for the role.

“Always, you know how I am with the whole starters thing. I don’t know who our starters are in Day One of pads,’’ Patricia said. “I’m pretty sure Matthew Stafford is good, the rest of that stuff we’ll figure out.’’

Patricia noted that cornerback Amani Oruwariye has been working hard, Justin Coleman too and obviously Desmond Trufant who signed as a free agent after Darius Slay left.

“We’ll see how it shakes out,’’ Patricia said.

So far the coach, entering his third season with the Lions, seems happy with Okudah in the early goings.

“Jeff is working really hard, he’s trying to do everything. He’s learning our system which is great and competing. We’ll rotate that as we go through with different looks and different packages,’’ Patricia said.

Overall he seemed happy with the first padded practice. 

“It was a really competitive day which was very pleasing for me. We talked yesterday that we’re four weeks out from yesterday before our first game. I do feel a little bit like ‘Oh man, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to get all this stuff in, we’ve got to get rolling.’

“We wake up this morning and we’re going out for a 90-minute practice because that’s all we’re allowed to do. So you’re just trying to scheme it and put it together so it moves as fast as possible. I thought the team really answered that bell,’’ Patricia said.

The Lions open their season on Sept. 13 at home against the Chicago Bears. All NFL preseason games have been eliminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That makes every minute on the field crucial.

“I could be out there for another six hours just working on fundamentals — pad level, hand placement and footwork,’’ Patricia said. “I’m excited just to see guys trying to do it right. The key will be to go out tomorrow and improve on what we did today.’’

 

Detroit Lions draft DT Jashon Cornell from Ohio State in 7th round

Jashon Cornell became the third Ohio State Buckeye drafted by the Lions in this 2020 draft.

The Lions selected the defensive tackle in the seventh round with the 235th overall pick. 

“I’ve been talking to the Lions for a while. I was really excited to get that phone call,’’ Cornell said in a conference call on Saturday.

Cornell was the top-ranked recruit in Minnesota after high school and chose Ohio State from more than 30 scholarship offers.

Back then he was best buddies with Lions offensive lineman Frank Ragnow. They would travel to high school camps all over the country together.

At Ohio State, he broke through as a senior starter earning all Big Ten honors. He lined up both inside and outside, but seemed to find a comfort level inside as a senior. 

The other Buckeyes drafted by the Lions this weekend include CB Jeff Okudah (first round) and G Jonah Jackson (third round). 

“Jeff Okudah is a franchise player. He’s going to be – the things that Jeff can do as a defensive back – being able to come in as a freshman and being able to watch Jeff grow, he was able to showcase his ability as one of the best defensive backs in the country,’’ Cornell said. “He came to practice every day, he showed out. Jeff Okudah is going to be a great player for the Lions. Jonah, me and Jonah go at it for 12 weeks out of the year for every year since Jonah (came in) you know, we always had our battles in practice. It’s going to be good to go back up there in Detroit, and be able to compete with Jonah each day at practice and stuff.”

 He thinks having college teammates might help in his transition to the NFL.

“One thing we do at Ohio State is treat everything as if it’s an NFL team. That’s one thing that makes it different from most teams and most players that we’ve been through all the rough patches and we know about the grind and being able to compete at a high level – that’s one thing we did every Saturday,’’ Cornell said. “I think that’s one thing we can transition to Detroit, us Buckeyes can come in bring that competitive factor, that championship mentality that we have at Ohio State. I think that’s one thing we can bring to Detroit as Buckeyes.”

Detroit Lions 2020 draft picks 

First round — CB Jeff Okudah (3rd overall), Ohio State

Second round — RB D’Andre Swift (35th overall) Georgia

Third round — LB Julian Okwara (67th overall) Notre Dame

Third round — G Jonah Jackson (85th overall) Ohio State

Fourth round — G Logan Stenberg (121st overall) Kentucky

Fifth round — WR Quintez Cephus (166th overall) Wisconsin

Fifth round — RB Jason Huntley (172nd overall) New Mexico State

Sixth round — DT John Penisini (197th overall) Utah

Seventh round — DT Jashon Cornell (235th overall) Ohio State

Detroit Lions draft Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus in fifth round

Oddly enough Lions first-round pick cornerback Jeff Okudah has said the best wide receiver he went up against last season was Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus.

Both are now members of the Detroit Lions. 

Wide receiver was a position of need for the Lions and they addressed it by drafting Cephus in the fifth round on Saturday (166th overall).

“Jeff is an unbelievable talent, he was the best guy I lined up against all year,’’ Cephus said in a conference call on Saturday.  “It’s amazing getting  to see all the great athletes that the Lions tapped this year that they drafted and the guys they have on their roster. 

“Jeff Okudah, I know he’ll get me better. I can’t wait to work with him and have fun, knowing he has that same respect for me that I have for him it’s going to be a great thing,’’ Cephus said.

The 6-1, 202-pound wide receiver ran a 4.73 40 at the NFL Combine.

As a senior he had 59 receptions for 901 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. 

“I think I’m a receiver that makes plays, I’m a complete receiver I’m willing to block, to make catches, I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to help my team be successful, whatever that is I’ll do what I have to do,’’ Cephus said.

He remembers watching quarterback Matthew Stafford when he played at Georgia.

“I’m excited to get to work with him, learn from him, he has a lot of great experience with a lot of great guys,’’ Cephus said. “… I’m excited to get there and go to work with thim.’’

Cephus’ career at Wisconsin was temporarily derailed before the 2018 season when he was accused of sexual assault. He was acquitted of those charges in August 2019,

Cephus was accused of sexual assault prior to the 2018 season. He was acquitted of the charges in August 2019, but missed the 2018 season. 

He didn’t want to talk about the issue in the conference call, saying he’s looking forward to playing with the Lions.

 

Detroit Lions draft picks (so far)

First round — CB Jeff Okudah (3rd overall), Ohio State

Second round — RB D’Andre Swift (35th overall) Georgia

Third round — LB Julian Okwara (67th overall) Notre Dame

Third round — G Jonah Jackson (85th overall) Ohio State

Fourth round — G Logan Stenberg (121st overall) Kentucky

Fifth round — WR Quintez Cephus (166th overall) Wisconsin