DETROIT — The Detroit Lions have been encouraged by cornerback Jeff Okudah’s play after the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft missed significant time his first two seasons with injury.
Watching the tape, Seattle receiver DK Metcalf isn’t so impressed.
“There’s a safety over the top of him, so he’s not really locking people down,” Metcalf said. “But he’s a good corner.”
They’ll get a closer look at each other Sunday, when Detroit (1-2) hosts Seattle (1-2). The pair are expected to match up at times.
It’ll be a test for the emerging Okudah, a former Ohio State star bouncing back after a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in the 2021 opener. He was also limited to nine games as a rookie with other ailments.
So far this year, Okudah has delivered.
“There is nothing physically that he’s lost,” coach Dan Campbell said. “He looks great.”
Okudah played a part in holding Philadelphia’s DeVonta Smith without a catch, limiting Washington’s Terry McLaurin to four receptions on eight targets and Justin Jefferson to just three catches.
“He’s got a lot of confidence right now,” Campbell said. “He’s really come a long way. It helps because now you can start to do some things coverage-wise that take pressure off other areas.”
Metcalf thinks the coverage has been helping take that pressure off Okudah. The Seahawks receiver had five catches for 64 yards and a score last week. He scored a career-high three touchdowns in the 2021 regular-season finale, when the Seahawks routed the Lions 51-29.
Detroit is facing a former standout defensive back that it traded away for the second time this month.
Seattle safety Quandre Diggs, a sixth-round pick by the Lions in 2015, will play at Ford Field with a road team for the first time.
“It will be different walking down that tunnel as a visitor,” he said.
Dealing Diggs backfired for former general manager Bob Quinn, who also made an ill-advised trade to send Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, who won at Detroit in the opener.
Diggs was a Pro Bowl selection each of the past two seasons with Seattle and had five interceptions in each of the last two years.
Detroit has been hit hard by injuries this season, and losing defensive back Tracy Walker for the season with an Achilles tendon injury is the latest hit.
“It’s going to be a tough adjustment to losing someone who was both one of our best players and a captain,” linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “He does everything you want out of a safety.”
Two of Detroit’s best players on offense, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D’Andre Swift, are also banged up with injuries and will miss the game.
When Seattle beat Detroit in Week 17 last season, Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny had a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns. So far, Penny has yet to have that breakout game this season. He had a season-high in yards (66) and carries (14) last week against Atlanta, a potentially promising sign.
The Lions lamented the way they lost at Minnesota, blowing a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter and a 10-point edge in the fourth.
Leading by three points after going 4 of 6 on fourth down, Campbell chose to attempt a 54-yard field goal with 1:14 left. The missed kick gave the Vikings favorable field position that they took advantage of with a game-winning drive in a 28-24 win.
“We’re only going into Week 4, so it isn’t panic mode or anything like that,” Anzalone said. “But definitely losing like we did (Sunday) is definitely motivation going forward. When you feel like you are the best team and we had them down by two scores, it is frustrating. I think we led for 58 of 60 minutes.”
Seattle’s biggest concern through three games is its inability to stop the run. The Seahawks are giving up 157 yards on the ground, ranking 30th in the league. San Francisco rushed for 189 yards two weeks ago and Atlanta followed up with 179 yards last week, including a career-best 141 yards from Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Seahawks have allowed each of its first three opponents to top 100 yards rushing for the second straight year. Last season, Seattle didn’t hold an opponent to fewer than 100 yards on the ground until Week 7.
“I would have liked to have gotten off to a faster start with what we are doing,” coach Pete Carroll said.