Cowboys defensive tackle Amobi Okoye practiced Thursday for the first time in almost two years, while taking a huge step forward in coming back from a potential deadly brain condition that had him in a coma for three months last year.
Okoye is still a long way from playing again. He was taken of the reserve/non-football injury list, giving the Cowboys 21 days to put him on the active roster.
But he is thankful and blessed for an opportunity he thought would never come after being diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain condition that causes memory issues and seizures and that had him a coma last fall.
“To be honest no,” Okoye responded when asked if he ever thought he would get to this point. “When you went through what I went through you never know what is going to happen later. I’m just fortunate and blessed to be where I am now.”
Okoye said he’s been appreciative of the second chance at life since the day he woke up from the coma. But to be able to able play football again is as surreal as it gets. He said he was so excited just to be able to practice that he couldn’t sleep Wednesday night.
“The journey back has been real tough just know the fact that you might no get to do what you do anymore,” Okoye said. “Being able to do it now is just priceless. I could hardly sleep last night anticipating what it was going to feel like. Getting that first practice out of the way is good.”
Okoye was excited to have contact again and he said he’s even looking forward to being sore in the morning for the first time in years.
“It feel good,” Okoye said. “As a defensive lineman its what you like to do. The contact felt good.”
There is still no guarantee Okoye plays this season. He still has long way to go to get in football shape and the Cowboys are stacked the defensive line.
The Cowboys could place him back in NFI after the week window is over.
Okoye said he is just happy to be where he is and wouldn’t be disappointed if his official return to the game has to wait another year.
Okoye last played with the Chicago Bears in 2012.
“I have already sat out a year,” Okoye said. “What is another year. I’m still young. I’m only 27.”
He’s also healthy and playing football again.