After undergoing a procedure on his ACL earlier in the offseason, star pass rusher Justin Houston had an uncertain outlook for the 2016 season. However, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said today that the team fully expects to have Houston back in 2016, telling reporters that “our doctors have reassured us that Justin will be playing this season” (Twitter links via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star).
Houston underwent postseason arthroscopic surgery on his knee, at which point his ACL was found to be “intact but not functioning.” While a separate procedure ensured that Houston’s ACL is now repaired, the original diagnosis suggested a recovery timetable of 6-12 months following the February surgery. When the club announced the news last month, head coach Andy Reid said he hoped Houston would be able to play in 2016.
While Dorsey sounded confident today that Houston will be back on the field in 2016, it’s not clear whether the club expects to have him for all 16 regular season games. Asked exactly when the 27-year-old would be back, the GM was noncommittal: “When is a good [question]. Not being a medical expert, I really can’t definitively tell you that answer” (link via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com).
Even if Houston only takes six months to recover, that would mean he’d return sometime in August — if he misses a portion of training camp and the preseason, it may take him a little extra time to get up to speed for the regular season. Still, it sounds like positive news for the Chiefs, whose pass rush would be significantly impacted by the loss of Houston for an extended period of time.
One of the league’s top outside linebackers, Houston inked a six-year, $101MM extension with the Chiefs less than a year ago, but was hampered by injuries in the first season of his new deal. After leading the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014, Houston still played very well in 2015, but totaled just 7.5 sacks in 11 games. The outside linebacker also showed some versatility by grabbing a pair of interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.