Knee trouble has impacted Justin Houston for lengthy stretches during his career. Although the Chiefs‘ top pass rusher played 15 games last season, he admitted he wasn’t at full strength. Houston missed 11 games in 2016 and five in 2015 due to a troublesome knee, one that required surgery during the 2016 offseason. But Houston’s participated throughout Kansas City’s offseason program this year and will be counted on to supply consistent edge pressure.
“When you have the surgery I had on my knee, it takes time to get your pop back and get where you want to be,” Houston said, via Nate Taylor of The Athletic (subscription required). “I’m beyond there right now. It just feels great to be back in that feeling.”
These knee problems have limited Houston since he signed that six-year, $101MM contract at the 2015 franchise tag deadline. He has not recorded double-digit sacks in a season since his NFL record-threatening 22 in 2014.
After examining the latest on the Raiders, here’s what’s new from the rest of the AFC West:
- In addition to the season-ending injuries sustained by Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett, the Chargers‘ recent spree of misfortune affected another tight end Sunday. Rookie UDFA Austin Roberts suffered a torn ACL and will miss the season, Anthony Lynn said (via Eric Williams of ESPN.com, on Twitter). Roberts was one of Josh Rosen‘s options at UCLA the past two seasons. The Bolts remain in discussions regarding an Antonio Gates reunion.
- The Broncos drafted two running backs and have two young holdovers in Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson, but rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay is turning heads early in camp. The 5-foot-7 speedster out of Colorado has Von Miller and Brandon Marshall expecting him to play a key role this season. “We’re definitely going to have some things planned for Phillip,” Miller said, via Jon Heath of Broncos Wire. “Guys like that in the league, you just can’t cover them. They’re just assets to the offense. You have to have a back like that and we definitely have one.” Marshall expects Lindsay, whom Mike Klis of 9News observes battling Henderson and seventh-round pick David Williams for a role behind Booker and Royce Freeman, to be Denver’s third-down back. Lindsay posted 1,700-plus yards from scrimmage in his final two college seasons. UDFAs like Chris Harris, C.J. Anderson and Shaquil Barrett have made impacts in Denver, but the franchise hasn’t deployed much of an outlet threat since Knowshon Moreno.
- Cameron Erving is in the mix to win the Chiefs‘ left guard job, per Taylor, who adds Mitch Morse looks to have reasserted himself as the center starter. Erving served as a Chiefs backup last season, but with K.C. having lost Zach Fulton in free agency, a spot is open for the former Browns first-round pick. Erving’s last full-time role came when he started 13 games with Cleveland in 2016. The Chiefs declined Erving’s fifth-year option, making this season particularly pivotal for the former Florida State standout.