Going into his sophomore season, Lions linebacker James Houston understands the importance of continuing to make a name for himself.
After being drafted by the Lions in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Houston played in a total of seven games (starting two) in his first year in the NFL. But even though he did not have a lot of opportunities to show what he is capable of, he made the most of it. Now Houston hopes this year, if given the chance, he can demonstrate how his versatility can be an asset and make a substantial impact on defense in 2023.
"For me, I've got to get on the field," Houston said, via the Detroit Free Press. "I don't know what that looks like, but I got to figure something out. Just like last year, it was just like they didn't really know where to put me. I feel like it's kind of similar, the same way. They don't really know where to put me, and so I'm kind of that guy, hopefully I can be a chess piece and not too much of a liability, I guess, where I really can only play one position, where you can move me in different ways and put me on the field. So that's really my goal, to get the team to be able to trust me enough to get to that point."
During his rookie season, Houston recorded 11 solo tackles and quarterback hits each, eight sacks and one forced fumble, an impressive start for the young linebacker helping make way for a powerful defense that includes defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who made an impact himself with his own incredible rookie year in Detroit.
As Houston eagerly waits to see what his role will look like at the start of the new season, the 24-year-old is self-assured that his talents should not go unnoticed, although the unknown has affected him.
"I know I did some pretty spectacular things (last season), but it was really just a confidence boost for me knowing that I can do it at this level because I knew I could do it, it was just, I never knew if I was going to get the opportunity, one, and I never knew if the timing was right," Houston said. "If the cards were going to play out for me. But things ended up being what they were and by the grace of God, he blessed me to be able to do what I did and I just got to continue to build upon that. He gave me these blessings, I need to fulfill it."
Now, as training camp leads to preseason, which leads to when it finally counts in September, Houston must do everything he can to prove his ability to start and make an impact going up against any offense.