When the San Francisco 49ers host the Denver Broncos Thursday evening, one player most of us will be keeping an eye on is defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye. As we all know, the British import has never played football, so everything he is doing, he is doing for the first time.
All indications are that he has shown improvement in practice, but as defensive coordinator Vic Fangio stated yesterday, it has to be taken in the context of having zero previous American football experience. Fangio wants to get Okoye into the game on Thursday, but it will depend on the number of defensive snaps available. It's safe to say that means Okoye is at the bottom of the defensive line depth chart.
Okoye recognizes that he has a lot of work to do, and acknowledged as much when he met briefly with the media Tuesday afternoon. Matt Barrows tweeted out some entertaining comments from Okoye:
"The first step was to get to a position where I can be looked upon as a really bad football player. And I think we're getting to that stage. I can say I'm a bad football player now. That's a good step for me. ... I'm pretty happy where I am at the moment."
You have to love that line about thinking he is getting to the stage of being a bad football player. He later made a good comparison to his move from rugby to throwing the discus.
"I was terrible. I was awful ... I wouldn't even call myself a discus thrower. I was a ... I don't know. I was really bad."
It would seem like Okoye completely understands this process, and where he is at. He may get some playing time on Thursday, but even if he doesn't, I have to think he recognizes this is all part of the development process.