It’s the offseason. A time for players to rest, relax, and for several, go under the knife. One of those who falls in the latter is rookie tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, who posted this photo of him undergoing some sort of right arm/shoulder surgery.
Surgery was a success now time to recover 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/PDHRGx9fpD
— Chukwuma Okorafor (@Chuks__76) January 18, 2019
It’s unclear the exact nature of the injury or when it occurred. Okorafor did deal with a shoulder injury in training camp and the preseason. He briefly missed during camp with a shoulder injury and was again evaluated after the Steelers preseason loss to Green Bay two weeks later.
No Chukwuma Okorafor today. Hurt shoulder yesterday, per Tomlin. #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 4, 2018
Going back through my camp notes, we noted it was a right shoulder injury suffered during the Friday Night Lights practice. It’s possible he played the entire season with the issue and finally got the chance to clean it up.
Okorafor played 155 offensive snaps as a rookie, making one start against the Denver Broncos and faring reasonably well. He also saw time as a 6th offensive linemen/tackle eligible. His playing time elevated throughout the year after the team lost Jerald Hawkins and then Marcus Gilbert for the year. Should Gilbert be released this summer, Okorafor will battle Matt Feiler for the starting right tackle spot. Hawkins will return after missing this past year due to injury but he’ll have to fight to secure his roster spot before challenging for anything more.
He was a surprised third round draft pick in the 2018 draft. In hindsight, given Gilbert’s injury history, a wise selection.