2015 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

Tyler EifertJul 30 03:23p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert said he is 100% healthy for the first time since the beginning of last offseason.

LeGarrette BlountJul 30 01:22p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was placed on the Non-Football Injury list because he was not able to complete the conditioning test at the start of training camp. [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 30 01:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (hamstring) said his hamstrings are fine and that he is 100% healthy entering training camp.

Terrance WestJul 30 12:52p

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West worked with the first-team offense during team drills Thursday, July 30. Head coach Mike Pettine said several running backs will see time with the starters during training camp.

Trent RichardsonJul 30 10:22a

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson is rumored to being unimpressive with his new team.

Tom BradyJul 30 10:12a

Updating an ongoing story, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's lawsuit was transferred to Manhattan, N.Y., by a Minnesota judge Friday, July 30.

Tom BradyJul 30 09:52a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has filed a lawsuit against the NFL asking a Minnesota federal court for penalties against Brady to be vacated. The suit alleges that [ More ]

Jake LongJul 30 09:42a

Free-agent OT Jake Long (Rams) left his visit with the New York Giants Wednesday, July 29, without a deal. It was his second visit with the team without a [ More ]

Joseph RandleJul 29 08:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle received strong praise from team owner and general manager Jerry Jones Wednesday July 29. 'We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential [ More ]

Joique BellJul 29 07:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (undisclosed) was placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, July 29, as he recovers from offseason surgery. It is unclear what the [ More ]

James WrightJul 29 06:43p

Free-agent WR James Wright (Bengals) was placed on Reserve/Injured Wednesday, July 29.

Jordan ReedJul 29 05:43p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (knee) has been cleared for full participation in training camp, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Chase CoffmanJul 29 04:53p

Free-agent TE Chase Coffman (Titans) re-signed with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday, July 29, according to a source.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:33p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) can be placed on the Non-Football Injury list if/when he signs his franchise tender. Owner John Mara said the team would like [ More ]

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:23p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) is receiving his own medical treatment and rehabilitation at his home. There is currently no timetable for his return. Pierre-Paul, however, could [ More ]

Roddy WhiteJul 29 03:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White (knee) had his left knee drained before minicamp, and he could have it drained again before the season ends. White isn't concerned about it, [ More ]

Ryan KerriganJul 29 01:43p

Washington Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan signed a five-year contract extension Wednesday, July 29, worth $11.5 million per season, according to a source. The deal includes a $16 million signing bonus.

Cyrus GrayJul 29 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray was released Wednesday, July 29.

Carlos HydeJul 29 11:13a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde is not believed to be injured and shouldn't be on the non-football injury list for long. Hyde suffered a calf injury during spring [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 09:23a

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady posted on Facebook that he replaced his broken phone with a new one after his attorneys told the NFL 'my [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 01:53a

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady could have had his suspended reduced based on a series of conditions. According to a source with knowledge of [ More ]

Eric BerryJul 29 01:43a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) has been cleared to take the practice field with the team Wednesday, July 29. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December [ More ]

Geno SmithJul 28 08:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith could be benched if he struggles early in the season, according to head coach Todd Bowles Tuesday, July 28. 'If you feel that [ More ]

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Tuesday, July 28.

Brodrick BunkleyJul 28 05:43p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (undisclosed) was released with a failed physical designation Tuesday, July 28.

James WrightJul 28 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR James Wright (knee) was waived with an injured designation Tuesday, July 28.

Darrin ReavesJul 28 05:33p

Carolina Panthers RB Darrin Reaves was waived Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 05:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is facing a four-game suspension, but the Patriots have done fairly well without him. In games Brady has missed since he became a [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 28 04:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has given permission to the NFL Players Association to appeal his case in federal court, according to a source. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell [ More ]

Lamar MillerJul 28 03:43p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller may see an increase in carries in 2015, according to head coach Joe Philbin. 'If he's cranking and he got it 24 times a [ More ]

Le'Veon BellJul 28 03:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's original three-game suspension has been reduced to a two-game suspension Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 02:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, July 28.

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