Detroit Lions outside linebacker James Houston has returned to practice, igniting hopes for the team’s playoff run. The team announced the opening of his 21-day practice window, marking a critical phase in his recovery. Houston, a promising edge rusher, suffered a broken fibula in the Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field.
Reviving the Rush: Houston’s Anticipated Return Fuels Lions’ Momentum
Houston’s comeback is timely for the 11-4 Lions, who recently secured their first division title since 1993. Despite their success, the team has sought more pass rush throughout the season. Houston, at 25, had a remarkable rookie season, finishing with eight sacks in just 140 snaps. His 17 total pressures on 92 rushes highlight his potential as a dominant force opposite Aidan Hutchinson.
Houston attributes his unique ability to maneuver around offensive linemen to his natural athleticism and inspiration he draws from NFL legends. Discussing his technique on the “Ermanni and Edwards with Maz Show” on Woodward Sports Network, Houston said:
I was never the tallest guy on the field, but I always was long. I had long arms, so I like to keep people at distance… Von Miller is one of those who uses that dip very, very well.
Lions Eyeing Higher Playoff Seeding
While it’s unclear if Houston will play a full role in the remaining regular-season games against the Cowboys and the Vikings, his return is perfectly timed for the playoff push. The Lions are in control of their destiny as it pertains to locking up the number two seed in the NFC and will need to win out to secure that spot. To secure the number one seed, the Lions need to win their next two games. Additionally, they require the San Francisco 49ers to lose either of their remaining games against the Washington Commanders or the Los Angeles Rams. Former Lions franchise QB Matthew Stafford, now with the Rams, could play a key role in the Lions’ quest for the top seed by defeating the 49ers in Week 18.
Roster Boosts Ahead of Playoffs
Houston is not the only player on the cusp of a comeback. Veteran safety Ceedy Duce (formerly C.J. Gardner-Johnson) and defensive tackle Alim McNeill are also expected to return, certainly enhancing the Lions’ defense. Duce’s 21-day practice window opened on December 20th, and McNeill is anticipated to be back for the season finale against the Vikings.
Despite the excitement, the Lions remain focused on their next challenge: the 10-5 Cowboys. However, the return of key players like James Houston adds depth and strength to a roster poised for success. The Lions, now the NFC North Champions, are setting their sights on a deep playoff run.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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