Lions want to give James Houston an expanded role in his second NFL season

As he moves toward being a better all-around player, James Houston is embracing a broader role in the Lions defense this season.


In the seven games he played as a rookie last season, after being on the Detroit Lions practice squad up that point, James Houston did not play a ton (140 defensive snaps). That was rooted in purely being a rookie called on to play more than halfway through the season, and some development there just wasn't time to give him.

So it was a "use him how we can" thing, and he delivered with eight sacks. Houston is eyeing becoming a better all-around defender this year, with a big sack goal in mind too. The Lions defensive coaches surely have plans to expand his responsibilities.

Before Tuesday's practice, via Kory Woods of MLive, head coach Dan Campbell talked about the plan to do a lot with Houston at the SAM linebacker spot, which comes with responsibilities in coverage that a defensive end rarely ever has.

"We know he’s got some abilities, some craft, but we’re trying to really expand his horizons, if you will...He’s gotta dive into the playbook. He’s gotta know the calls. He’s gotta understand all the adjustments to formations, things of that nature,” Campbell said. “And that’s an (area) where once he grows, if he can get to that point, you know (last year), he didn’t come off the field, but he’s got a long way to go before that happens.”"

Dan Campbell

James Houston sounds ready for whatever is put on his plate this year

Not that he's say anything different, but Houston is ready for whatever the coaches want to do with him.

"I’m playing a multitude of positions, so there are a lot of different techniques and a lot of new movements that I’ll be doing, so it probably just won’t be just rushing the passer this year,” "

James Houston

Last year was a nice foundation for Houston to build on. There's a ramp up now, during his second training camp, without last year's fighting as a sixth-round rookie to make the 53-man roster during camp. He's locked into a roster spot, so now it's all about taking the next step. The foundation for that next level is being built right now.

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