Dan Campbell’s Big Praise for James Houston May Point to Bright Future

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell on the field coaching the Lions in 2022.

The Detroit Lions were witness to a major revelation on Thanksgiving Day when rookie James Houston impressed with two sacks in his first NFL game.

That output represented some major team history for the rookie considering it had never been done before by a youngster. While it might have been a total surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to plenty on the coaching staff including head coach Dan Campbell.

Houston’s big performance may have been multiple weeks in the making. Speaking to The Morning Show With Stoney & Jansen on 97.1 The Ticket, Campbell admitted that Houston had been giving veteran linemen trouble for weeks prior to his big game, and the Lions had been trying to get him on the roster for a few weeks.

As 97.1 The Ticket and CBS Detroit writer Will Burchfield pointed out in a piece, Campbell may not have been able to foresee the big first day, but he was certainly already sure of Houston’s impact in practice.

“Now, I wouldn’t have known that he was going to go in there and have that production in five reps, but I do know this: he’s been popping in practice a lot. When you watch it with your eyes, you’re like, this kid’s got something. And then Decker and Sewell and (Evan) Brown and all the offensive linemen are like, ‘Man, when’s this kid coming up?’ That verifies that what you’re seeing is right. He’s causing some issues for your starters,” Campbell said as written in the piece by Burchfield.

Clearly, Houston made believers of plenty with his big effort in his first game. He is now in contention for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week award, and has begun to get on many radars across the league for what he did.

For the rookie, the hard work begins now. He will have to prove that his performance wasn’t merely a fluke. Considering how consistent he is said to have been in practice and his debut, that might not be tough duty at all.

Relive Houston’s Big Game vs. Bills

Houston, who had just been activated by the team off the practice squad before the game, immediately made his presence felt with some big plays for the Lions on Thanksgiving.

On Detroit’s second possession, he was on the spot with a key fumble recovery on special teams to help the team.

Things only got better from there for Houston. The rookie broke through late in the first half and collected his first career sack of Josh Allen. The play took Buffalo out of touchdown range and forced a field goal.

Later on, Houston would get to Allen again, picking up a third quarter sack for the Lions defense when they needed it the most.

The trio of plays were key for the Lions in the game, who used them to maintain momentum and hold a good Buffalo offense at bay as long as possible.

While the Lions may have lost the game, they didn’t lose because of Houston, who ended up playing a huge role during the contest with the big plays.

Houston Earned New Spot on Lions’ Roster

As a result of this performance, and likely what Campbell was talking about, Houston now gets to stay with the Lions’ roster. This week, the team revealed he would be sticking around.

On Tuesday, November 28, the Lions officially put Houston on the active roster, signing him and placing edge Charles Harris on the injured reserve.

Lions announce roster moves: Placed DE Charles Harris on Injured Reserve. Signed DE/LB James Houston to the Active Roster from the Practice Squad,” the team tweeted.

While Harris constitutes a loss for the team, Houston will now get his shot to prove that his early performance against one of the NFL’s elite teams was not a fluke whatsoever.

If Campbell’s words hold any weight, he could be expected to do just that with the opportunities that surely lie ahead.

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