After finally being unleashed from the practice squad on Thanksgiving Day, Detroit Lions rookie James Houston has been a terror for opposing quarterbacks.
In the six games he has appeared, the former Jackson State Tiger has eight sacks, which leads all NFL rookies despite being on the field for largely a limited third-down role.
Against the Chicago Bears, in his first career start, Houston recorded three sacks and forced a fumble in a 41-10 victory that kept hope alive of a Lions playoff berth.
“You earn your keep and he has earned the right to play on first and second down,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said on Thursday. “He’s earned the right to play on those third down situations and he’s continued to earn the right, just like every other person on our defense. When you go out and practice the way you’re supposed to practice and you show that you know what you got, what’s going on, you’re going to play.”
Houston’s play earned him the Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award among five other rookies for the fan-voted award: Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker (133 rushing yards), Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (95 total yards, TD), Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (168 yards, TD), 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (284 yards, 2 TDs), and Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (78 yards, TD).