James Houston came on strong during the stretch run of the 2022 season for the Detroit Lions. Now, in his second season, he's looking to take the next step and be more than just a pass rusher.
Houston posted eight sacks in just seven games last year, after being elevated from the practice squad. That was nearly enough to outduel fellow rookie Aidan Hutchinson, who posted 9.5 sacks over the full season to lead all NFL rookies.
Houston needed to and has shown progress this preseason, making plays in the run game.
After two weeks of preseason work, Houston has tallied eight quarterback pressures with a sack and a pair of run stops.
There is a question whether or not Houston would be able to back that rookie season production this year. If the preseason is any indication, it feels likely he will have a good shot.
James Houston credited for "showing out" during Lions preseason games
It's not just the numbers that tell of Houston's fantastic preseason performance, but the eye test as well. Houston has seemed to be a more well-rounded playmaker, and folks are taking notice.
Following the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pro Football Focus gave Houston the defensive spotlight as part of their wrap-up.
"James Houston showed out for the second week in a row, making plays throughout the game for the Lions. He was on the field late in the fourth quarter, securing the final of his four tackles for loss with three minutes left in the game and adding a sack."- Pro Football Focus
It feels as if Houston is ready to prove he can back up (and even build on) his solid work from late last season. His performance in the preseason is laying the groundwork for the full-fledged breakout that many have predicted for him.