It wasn’t just diaper talk with Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell during his Tuesday appearance on 97.1 The Ticket show “Stoney & Jansen with Heather.” Campbell also provided an injury update on Lions pass rusher James Houston, although it wasn’t exactly a promising update.
“We’d be shooting for (a) December (return),” Campbell explained, “but he’s still got a ways to go, and that’s probably more late December if it’s going to happen.”
Houston suffered a fractured ankle on a special teams play during the Lions’ Week 2 bout against the Seattle Seahawks. While the injury was initially reported by NFL Network as one that would take “at least 6-8 weeks” to recover from, this new timeline suggests closer to 14-15 weeks.
Campbell also acknowledged that while Houston has a good chance to return to play quickly once the injury is fully healed, there is also an acclimation period Houston will have to go through.
“I do think this is one you can come back from pretty quickly once it’s healed and he’s out and about, but he still has to get out there, he’s got to practice, get his feet under him, get the mental side of it,” Campbell said. “So, I don’t know. Until he’s out there, it’s hard to say what he’s going to look like.”
Houston was one of the Lions’ best pass rushers in 2022. After getting the midseason elevation from the practice squad, Houston quickly amassed 8.0 sacks in just seven games, including five in the first four NFL games of his career.
This year, the Lions have struggled to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They rank t-21st in sacks on the year (21), and outside of Aidan Hutchinson (4.5 sacks), other edge defenders are not getting to the quarterback. Julian Okwara, Charles Harris, John Cominsky, Josh Paschal, and Romeo Okwara have combined for just 4.5 sacks on the season.
Campbell was then asked if the team is scouring the waiver wire and free agency to provide a boost, similar to the Saints’ recent signing of defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul.
“(Lions GM) Brad (Holmes) is always looking at guys like that,” Campbell said. “If he thinks they can bring something to us, he’s looking. We’re constantly looking to see if there’s anybody that brings something different to us that helps improve us or gives us another option here to help us in any phase of the game.”
UPDATE: I guess Campbell wasn’t lying, as the Lions have signed veteran edge defender Bruce Irvin.