FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Cornerback Jeff Okudah was carted off the Falcons practice field on Friday while defending a deep throw from Desmond Ridder to Frank Darby in one-on-one passing drills.
The fourth-year veteran was helped onto a cart and taken to the locker room. He did not return to practice.
Head coach Arthur Smith said after the session that Okudah suffered an ankle injury but wanted to wait for an MRI before offering a more definitive diagnosis.
That imaging has revealed relatively good news, per head coach Arthur Smith. While Smith wouldn’t put an exact timetable on Okudah’s return, he said the cornerback could return in the early portions of the regular season. Smith didn’t provide specifics on the exact nature of the ankle injury.
“Very positive news with Jeff,” Smith said after Saturday’s practice. “We have think he has a great chance to be back in the early part of the season. We feel really good for Jeff, all things considered.”
It’s a positive for team and player that Okudah’s season isn’t over.
The Falcons traded for Okudah this offseason, giving up a 2023 fifth-round pick for the former No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick. The Ohio State product has dealt with significant injuries in the past. He suffered a groin injury that ended his rookie season with Detroit in 2020 and ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in the first game of the 2021 season.
He came back strong in 2022, starting to realize vast potential that made him an elite high school and college prospect.
Okudah consistently practiced with the first team, opposite A.J. Terrell, during OTAs and training camp. He was having an excellent camp before the injury, showing elite athleticism while consistently getting his hands on the ball.
Tre Flowers stepped in with the first team after Okudah was taken from the practice field. The Falcons have other options to take Okudah’s place, including Dee Alford, Mike Hughes and rookie Clark Phillips III