Lions Rookie Defender Praised for ‘Over-Performing’ Late in Season

James Houston

Getty James Houston celebrates a 2022 sack vs. Buffalo.

The Detroit Lions have enjoyed a great season from their rookies so far this year, and one of the biggest revelations so far has been the play of defensive end James Houston.

Brought up from the practice squad due to injury, Houston has impressed in a big way with three sacks in two games, and as a result, he’s starting to get on some radars right now as a super young player.

ESPN routinely takes a look at naming their top rookies during the NFL season, and Houston, who was far off the radar most of the year, rose to being named in the piece. Jordan Reid had him in the over-performing late-round pick category, and wrote that he has become a major bright spot for the team.

“Since being elevated from the practice squad, Houston has been a bright spot for the Lions. He was the first player in franchise history to record a multi-sack game in his NFL debut. The former Jackson State product has been productive opposite Hutchinson. Now signed to the active roster, he’s a name to keep an eye on moving forward,” Reid wrote in the piece.

Typically, folks expect next to nothing from young players, especially those selected in the sixth round. In Houston and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, the Lions have a pair of players who have stepped up and dominated thus far.

This bodes well for Brad Holmes and his hopes of having one of the best draft classes in the league from the 2022 offseason.

Houston Having Historical Start to Lions Career

As it turns out, the rookie had more tricks up his sleeve for his new team. Just a few weeks after being activated, Houston has been piling up the sacks for the Lions. In Week 13, Houston collected yet another takedown of the quarterback.

Late in the first-half, Houston broke through the line with a nice move and slammed Trevor Lawrence to the turf.

With three sacks in two games, there’s no question that Houston has arrived on the big stage in a big way. It’s hard for rookies to win consistently in the NFL in terms of pass rush, and Houston’s explosion shows how ready he is to dominate in the league.

Historically, he continues to roll on as well for the team given the stats he is putting up.

During his first game, Houston ended up as the only Lions rookie to have a pair of sacks in his debut. After the game in Week 13, Houston ends up as the first rookie since Da’Shawn Hand to record three sacks within their first two career games.

“With his nine-yard sack, Lions LB James Houston became the first Lions rookie to record a sack in consecutive games since DL Da’Shawn Hand in 2018. He joins Aidan Hutchinson as the only two Lions rookies with 3.0 sacks within their first two-career games,” the account tweeted.

Obviously, the history is very impressive. Moving forward, it will be fun to watch and see if Houston can continue to pile up the sacks in the short-term while being a potential menace in the making for the long-term.

Houston a Major Piece for Lions

After his quick impact, it’s clear Houston figures to be a guy that could offer the Detroit defense a major leg-up in the future. Already, he’s getting credit for what he has done leading all rookies in sacks with his teammate Aidan Hutchinson.

Thus far, the duo of Hutchinson and Houston ranks first and second in the league in terms of rookie sacks this season, something the Lions pointed out. That may not seem significant, but given the struggles of the Lions to develop young pass rushers through the years, it is.

Houston has impressed quickly after having limited NFL experience. He played the first half of the season on the practice squad before getting turned loose on Thanksgiving. All he’s done is produce three quick sacks for the team. Hutchinson has been solid throughout the season, and has showed good instincts to intercept passes.

As a sixth-round pick out of Jackson State, little was expected for Houston in his first season. If he can continue to buck expectations and deliver, he truthfully might become one of the more exciting rookies to come through Detroit in a while.

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