James Houston had us all wondering why he didn't get elevated to the Detroit Lions' active roster sooner almost a year ago now. From Thanksgiving on, he had eight sacks in seven games and everyone was eyeing a breakout for him this year.
But a fractured ankle in Week 2 has sidelined Houston since. When or if he'll play again this season has been a question, though a couple weeks ago head coach Dan Campbell offered an optimistic update.
"I mean, that’s another one, with some of these guys that we’ve got on IR,” Campbell said. “It’s just part of the rehab process. Now, what he had was pretty clean, so the rehab, the healing should be pretty clean. But there again, if it’s happening, then we’re talking about December.”
Houston was reportedly expected to miss 6-8 weeks at the time of his injury. So right now would be the time he'd return based on that, though Campbell extended it at least a couple weeks with the aforementioned comments.
James Houston injury update: When will Lions' edge rusher return to action?
During his weekly appearance on 97.1 The Ticket Tuesday morning, Campbell addressed the idea that Houston could eventually help a lackluster pass rush.
"It’s tough to say," Campbell said. "We’d be shooting for December, but he’s still got a ways to go. And that’s probably more late December if it’s going to happen, so we don’t know. You just don’t know how anybody’s going to come back from injury."
"I do think this is one you can come back from pretty quickly once it’s healed, but he still has to get out there, he’s gotta practice, get his feet under him, get the mental side of it, so I don’t know. Until he’s out there, it’s hard to say what he’s going to look like."
The Lions are doing fine in terms of putting heat on opposing quarterbacks, with the third-best hurry rate (11.3 percent) and the 10th-best pressure rate (25.1 percent) in the league. It's finishing that's been a problem, with just 21 sacks and 18 of those coming over three games.
Houston would certainly help the Lions' pass rush, even if he's on limited snaps.
It was easy to take Campbell previously saying Houston could return in December as meaning the earliest possible moment next month. It feels like a clarification to now say late December, and the question of if the Lions' young edge rusher plays again this season remains.