Well before Dan Campbell and the Lions activated James Houston last week, Taylor Decker, Penei Sewell and the rest of Detroit's offensive linemen kept asking them what they were waiting for.
Houston had been making noise in practice for several weeks. Then the rookie pass rusher made Ford Field shake on Thanksgiving with two third-down sacks against Josh Allen and the Bills. On five defensive snaps, no less.
"James is somebody that’s been on our radar for a while now," Campbell said Tuesday on the Stoney & Jansen Show. "We’ve been trying to get him up on gameday for three or four weeks now."
A rash of injuries at other positions kept preventing it. But with defensive end Charles Harris (groin) unavailable heading into last week's game, the Lions decided it was time to give Houston a shot -- "because we do feel like he can deliver a little rush," said Campbell. Known as 'Da Problem' at Jackson State, where he piled up 16.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles last season, the sixth-round pick lived up to his nickname.
"Now, I wouldn’t have known that he was going to go in there and have that production in five reps, but I do know this: he’s been popping in practice a lot," said Campbell. "When you watch it with your eyes, you’re like, this kid’s got something. And then Decker and Sewell and (Evan) Brown and all the offensive linemen are like, ‘Man, when’s this kid coming up?’
"That verifies that what you’re seeing is right. He’s causing some issues for your starters."
The Lions officially signed Houston to the 53-man roster Monday after placing Harris on injured reserve. The latter hasn't played since Detroit's Week 10 win over the Bears and might not play again this season after battling his groin for for most of the year. The former is in line for more opportunities in the weeks ahead.
"We were fortunate to get him up and he was able to go in there and make some plays," said Campbell. "He’s up on the roster now and let’s see if we can continue to let him grow."