James Houston has been a revelation, and Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash had a rather eloquent explanation for why it took so long for the rookie edge rusher to play.
As a sixth-round pick last April, James Houston was going to have to work to get noticed and make the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster heading into the season. The preseason showed he wasn’t quite ready for the big time, and in a certain light the Lions seemed lucky to get him back on their practice squad.
Hindsight says they were very lucky.
Houston played his sixth game NFL last Sunday against the Chicago Bears, with three sacks of Justin Fields which were individually impressive and a personal highlight reel as a group. He has eight sacks in his first six career games, putting himself in heady if not exclusive company in NFL history.
Houston toiled on the Lions’ practice squad for 11 weeks, showing enough potential for head coach Dan Campbell to mention his desire to get Houston into games. That opportunity came in Week 12, Thanksgiving Day, against the Buffalo Bills. Houston announced his arrival with two sacks of Josh Allen in that game.
Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash eloquently explained why James Houston didn’t play sooner
Defensive line coaches don’t speak to the media often, but Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash did on Wednesday. When asked why Houston didn’t play sooner, he had some easily explained answers rooted in simply having room for him on the roster.
In terms of the fantastic performance of the Lions’ rookie defensive lineman, Wash had a joke.
Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Wash also had a nice line about Houston specifically, and why he didn’t play far sooner.
"It just took us a while to get smart more than anything."
Houston played a career-high 33 defensive snaps against the Bears, so his role is growing. A telling sign of the trust level he has earned is how he started out dropping into coverage on the play that resulted in his third sack of the game. It took him a while to get on the game day field for the Lions, but “Da Problem” (for opponents) is not going anywhere.