Expectations were high for James Houston entering the 2023 season, but his campaign will be put on hold for an extended stretch. The Lions edge rusher suffered a fractured ankle in Week 2, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Further testing will be done today to determine if surgery is necessary, Rapoport adds. Regardless of if a procedure is needed, though, Houston is facing an absence of at least six to eight weeks. The news marks a disappointing turn for the 24-year-old who was looking to build off his surprising production in his rookie season.
Houston announced his presence with a pair of Thanksgiving Day sacks in his NFL debut, and he remained productive after earning a spot on the active roster following that performance. The fifth-rounder totaled eight sacks and 13 pressures on the season, despite seeing the field for only 32% of defensive snaps. A repeat of his 2022 play was thought to be in store, something which would have presumably earned him an uptick in playing time.
Instead, Houston is now likely headed to IR given the severity of the injury. Through two games in 2023, the Jackson State product has totaled just one tackle while remaining in a rotational role. His absence will nevertheless be missed on a Lions team which has registered only one sack so far this season. Improvement in that department was expected in part due to Houston’s success as a rookie as well as the promise shown by 2022 No. 2 selection Aidan Hutchinson.
The latter will remain the anchor of Detroit’s pass-rush contingent, with Charles Harris and brothers Julian Okwara and Romeo Okwara in place. Josh Paschal is on IR, so the Houston injury leaves the Lions even thinner on the edge. In the linebacking corps, the team will continue to lean on Derrick Barnes on the outside, and special teamer Anthony Pittman could be in line for at least a rotational defensive role moving forward.