2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Chiefs linebacker Houston off to sack-filled start

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-26 11:54

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Georgia coach Mark Richt knew that Justin Houston had all the physical tools to be a smashing NFL success. The young linebacker just needed to screw his head on straight.

Well, now it's bolted on in such a way that his eyes are focused right on the quarterback.

The never-stop motor of the Kansas City defense, Houston has already piled up 7 1/2 sacks through the first three weeks. That freakish pace puts him on track to have 40 by the end of the season.

Nobody expects him to keep up that rate, of course, but the notion that Houston could at least approach the NFL record of 22 1/2 set by the Giants' Michael Strahan in 2001 is a possibility.

``Justin had the body type; he had the work ethic. I'm not surprised at all to see him do well,'' Richt said this week. ``The guy had 4 1/2 sacks in a game, so what are you going to say?''

Houston piled up that total last Thursday night in Philadelphia. He's had four games of three-plus sacks already in his career and a total of 23 in 35 games.

``I think it takes a team effort,'' said Houston, who made his first Pro Bowl last season. ``When you've got guys covering the whole time, and the big guys inside pushing the pocket, and Tamba Hali rushing from the other side, it's very easy to make plays.''

It helps that Houston has been feasting on rookie offensive tackles this season.

He abused No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel in the season opener at Jacksonville, piling up his first three sacks. In Philadelphia, it was No. 4 pick Lane Johnson who was doing his best bullfighter imitation as Houston breezed by on the outside.

Houston could get another rookie tackle Sunday, too. Justin Pugh, the 19th overall pick, will start on the right side for the Giants if David Diehl still isn't back from thumb surgery.

Pugh was part of a group that allowed Eli Manning to get sacked seven times last Sunday.

``He's got a good motor, so it's a good challenge for me,'' Pugh said of Houston.

It's hard to mimic what Houston can do, though, because there are very few players like him.

He stands an imposing 6-foot-3, 258 pounds yet has speed that could rival many running backs in the NFL. His upper body strength allows him to shed would-be blockers like he's shrugging off a sack of potatoes, while his tree trunk legs provide him leverage on bull rushes.

Then there are his hands, which stood out to Richt most of all.

``He had hands about that big,'' Richt said, holding up his own and outlining a much bigger hand around it. ``For whatever reason, they measure the hand size. They probably went crazy when they measured his hands: `Draft that guy. He's got big hands.'''

All the better to wrestle down opposing quarterbacks.

Houston was considered a first-round talent coming out of Georgia, but he slid to the third round when questions arose about his maturity. Houston reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine, and that gave plenty of teams across the league pause.

Former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli took the risk on Houston, gambling that he would quickly grow up, and so far it's paid off. Houston has been a model teammate since he arrived.

``He gets on the field and gets mad and makes plays,'' Hali said. ``He wants to be recognized as one of the top rushers to ever play here, or play in the league.''

He's certainly off to quite the start.

``He's got to continue to work,'' coach Andy Reid said. ``We're early in the season here, and the better you do, the better teams know who you are. So you're going to get everybody's `A' game when they play against you. You have to prepare that way, take care of your business and continue to get better.''

---

AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Athens, Ga., contributed to this report.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

Stevan RidleyApr 8 07:53p

New York Jets RB Stevan Ridley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Amobi OkoyeApr 8 04:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Amobi Okoye was released Wednesday, April 8.

Emmanuel LamurApr 8 03:43p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur officially re-signed Wednesday, April 8, to a one-year, $2.356 million deal.

Adrian PetersonApr 8 01:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is 'highly unlikely' to face more suspension from the league when he's finally off the Commissioner's Exempt List, according to a source. Peterson's next [ More ]

George JohnsonApr 7 10:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed restricted free-agent DE George Johnson (Lions) to a three-year offer sheet Tuesday, April 7. Financial terms are undisclosed. The Lions have five days to match the offer.

Le'Veon BellApr 7 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season, according to sources. Bell is being suspended following an arrest last [ More ]

Erin HendersonApr 7 05:13p

Free-agent LB Erin Henderson (Vikings) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, April 7, according to a source. Henderson didn't play last year [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group