Underrated Lions Rookie Surprises With Major First Game Performance

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell celebrates in the first half on Thanksgiving 2022.

The Detroit Lions have had an impressive start from their 2022 rookie class, and while nearly every player has been competitive and excelled, one hadn’t yet gotten the chance.

Linebacker and defensive end James Houston, who was just activated by the team off the practice squad, immediately made his presence felt with some big plays for the Lions. 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 plays were key for the Lions, who need everything they can get on defense given the players that have been out lately. This contribution for the Lions was major, and the hope is Houston is a player who can be a force in the league.

Houston Came With Awesome Nickname

For those who may have forgotten, Houston came into the league with a major nickname given his penchant for big plays in college much like he turned in on Thanksgiving Day.

Joining reporters on a conference call after he was picked back in April, Houston explained that his nickname is “da problem,” as in the old axiom “Houston, we have a problem.”

Houston himself has been a big problem for opposing offenses, and that’s true whether or not he has played at Florida or Jackson State. While playing with Jackson State, Houston played for Deion Sanders, who famously chastised NFL teams for not paying attention to the JSU pro day. Houston becomes Sanders’ first-ever player drafted into the league as coach.

Detroit paid attention, and could end up with a steal of a player as a result. It’s possible he immediately vaults to the top of having the best nickname in the locker room.

Now, Houston finally has some big plays in the NFL to go with the nickname.

Houston’s College Stats & Highlights

Houston the player could play a huge role in the Lions being able to have a big season on the field in the second half, as he has already impressed the team since joining the team.

Coming into the league, Houston looks like a monster of a player, and has put up stats while playing college football. Last season, Houston put up 70 tackles, 24.5 tackles for-loss, 7 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 1 defensive touchdown to go with 16.5 sacks. Houston played at Florida in 2020 and put up 37 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble.

Houston was also a first-team All-SWAC player, a STATS FCS All-American and an FCS Coaches All-American last year. On the field, he packs a punch as the highlights show:

It’s easy to see what kind of a problem Houston has been when he has been on the field and playing in a big way, and there’s no doubt he can take on the mindset his staff wants for the team.

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