Detroit Lions edge rusher James Houston has been named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week after his big performance against the Chicago Bears.
On Sunday, Houston tallied three sacks and a forced fumble on Justin Fields, helping lead the Lions to a dominant 41-10 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. Houston tallied three sacks in the game and also forced a fumble that fellow rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson recovered.
Houston has been a revelation for this Lions defense since the Lions promoted him from the practice squad back on Thanksgiving. In the six games he’s played since then—most of them in a limited third-down role—he has already tallied 8.0 sacks, leading all NFL rookies despite only playing a total of 110 defensive snaps.
But last week against the Bears, Houston saw an increased role, earning his first career start and playing consistently on first and second down for the time in his young career.
“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 beat out five other rookies for this week’s 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).
Houston becomes the second Lions player to win the award this season. Hutchinson earned those honors in Week 11 after picking off Daniel Jones and earning a fumble recovery vs. the Giants.
Houston did not end up winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, though. That went to Saints edge defender Cameron Jordan, who also had 3.0 sacks and a forced fumble on Sunday.