Julian Okwara made his 2022 debut in Week 2. The Lions EDGE made his presence felt in the win over Washington, creating several pressures on Commanders QB Carson Wentz in limited reps.
Okwara had some issues finishing those pressures, whiffing on two separate potential sacks of Wentz, but the ability to win around the edge was obvious. It’s something Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn hopes — no, expects – to see more of from No. 99. Glenn is excited by what Okwara offers as a speed rusher.
“Well, JO (Okwara) is a fastball for us, especially off the edge. So, we try to utilize him in those situations as much as we can. Obviously, last year he had one of his – if not his best year. We’re looking for him to actually have a better year this year because we know what he can do now. So, it’s just to us as coaches to make sure we continue to put him in a situation where he can be successful.
Glenn continued, noting Okwara still might not be 100 percent recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out almost all of training camp.
“It’s good to have him back, he still, he’s still improving. He’s still coming off that injury. It usually takes a while when you come off a hamstring. So, really looking forward to see how he’s going to operate this week going into the year. So, but I think that guy’s going to have a good year.”
Keeping Okwara on the field to make an impact has been the biggest holdup to the improvement. Okwara has been healthy for just 20 games in two-plus seasons, on the field for under 475 snaps. He logged 27 total tackles and five sacks in 13 games in 2021.
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