James Houston is the subject of breakout buzz that he has backed with a lofty goal for his second season, and he knows what he has to do to fulfill that promise.
Once he got on the field for the Detroit Lions as a rookie last season, James Houston wasted no time making an impact. Two sacks of Bills quarterback Josh Allen on Thanksgiving Day evolved to eight sacks in seven games, over 140 snaps.
Houston has been the subject of easy breakout buzz this offseason, if only on the idea he'll naturally play more in his second season. He has also set a lofty goal for this season, to double his sack total from last season.
But Houston is also keenly aware of what he has to do to pay off the buzz and reach his goal.
James Houston wants to become an every down player in Detroit Lions defense
Speaking to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required), Houston made it clear what he has to do in his second season.
"For me, I’ve got to get on the field,” Houston said, “I don’t know what that looks like, but I got to figure something out. Just like last year, it was just like they didn’t really know where to put me. I feel like it’s kind of similar, the same way. They don’t really know where to put me, and so I’m kind of that guy, hopefully I can be a chess piece and not too much of a liability, I guess, where I really can only play one position, where you can move me in different ways and put me on the field. So that’s really my goal, to get the team to be able to trust me enough to get to that point.”"
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has made it clear he feels Houston wants to be a more complete player. Prior to transferring to Jackson State to play for Deion Sanders in his final college season and having a big sack total that year, he played some off-ball linebacker at Florida.
Houston had seven tackles for loss as a rookie. So he was a little more than pure pin your ears back and get after the passer guy, even in limited snaps.
Veterans Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara will have something to say about how big a role Houston has this season. But the raw talent is clearly there, and his second season is about becoming a complete force for the Lions' defense.