Justin Houston took a little while to get going, but when he did, he became one of the most impressive and exciting young defenders on the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Georgia defensive end/linebacker took over the starting role opposite Tamba Hali for the Chiefs and earned 5.5 sacks in the team's last 5 games. It's a streak of momentum the team hopes he continues into the 2012 regular season.
Houston already earned one sack in the team's first preseason game, and his emergence coincides with the possibility for several others to break out. If one man does his job, in other words, everyone else can do their own.
Well, he started last year," said linebackers coach Gary Gibbs from training camp on Tuesday. "I think he realizes that he needs to play better than he did last year. I think he's had a good off season. I think he's matured and I think he realizes that there are some good players that are counting on him. Again, it remains to be seen, but I think he'll step up and have a good year."
Gibbs wasn't ready to declare any sort of predictions for Houston at all, but instead just emphasized the idea that Houston is a good player in process of learning what it takes to succeed at the NFL level.
"I have no idea [about his ceiling]," said Gibbs. "I'm just hoping he does better tomorrow than he did today. He's a good young player that gained some good experience last year but he needs to build on that experience. Every day that you are out there you can see things and adjust to things, and if he does that, then I think we'll have a pretty good outside linebacker. But we are early in that process."
Houston finished the 2012 season with 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.