CB Houston Focused on Improving His Game

Posted Mar 26, 2010

The Detroit Lions have made a number of moves so far this offseason to add to the defensive side of the ball.

Many changes have been along the defensive line, but Detroit has also added a pair of fourth-year cornerbacks, Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade, to the secondary.

The Lions acquired Houston on March 13 in a trade with Atlanta. He played in 44 games with 37 starts while with the Falcons and is looking forward to growing in his craft while with Detroit.

“You never know what to expect,” said Houston of the trade. “I wondered how my teammates were going to be, how my coaches were going to be, whether this going to be a positive atmosphere or a negative atmosphere. So far it has been positive all the way.”

Houston has enjoyed getting to know his fellow defensive backs, though he already knew Wade and sixth-year pro Eric King.

Unsurprisingly, the player that has made the biggest impression on him thus far is second-year safety Louis Delmas.

“I like his attitude and the way he approaches everything,” said Houston. “He makes everything relaxing and funnier – not so uptight. That’s what I like about him. That’s what he brings to the (defensive backs) room.”

This week marked the NFL’s annual owner’s meetings, meaning the majority of the coaching staff was out of the office.

That didn’t stop the players from running on-field drills, however. Houston was surprised at the initiative taken by the defensive backs, led through drills by King.

“There is definitely that motivation (to keep working),” he said. “We didn’t have too much of that in Atlanta. Guys taking leadership roles already when the coaches aren’t here shows a positive (position) room.”

Houston has that same motivation when it comes to his individual improvement.

When asked what the strengths of his skill set were, he immediately noted his speed (he ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine).

He was also quick to point out his weaknesses, stating that the No. 1 thing he wants to work on is his ball skills.

“I’m going to work with Calvin Johnson and get with some of the veterans like (Nate) Burleson later on and ask what some things are I can do to get better in that area,” he said.

Houston, who had one interception in 2009 and two in 2008, knows Johnson from working out at the same facility in Florida prior to the 2007 NFL Draft.

He says receivers like Johnson can help him understand exactly what they are looking for prior to catching the ball and exactly what they’re hoping cornerback’s don’t do prior to them catching the ball.

“I’m going to sit down and ask him the positive things a DB can do and what he doesn’t like a DB to do to him and kind of add that into my game,” said Houston.

Houston spoke with Head Coach Jim Schwartz following the trade, discussing changes that are happening within the organization.

“He wants positive, good, humbled, tough, experienced dudes on the team – hardworking dudes,” said Houston. “He talked to me about that. I think that’s what the Lions are trying to do.”

One of those players that has stood out to Houston is the team’s starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

Houston is no stranger to playing with a young, top-drafted quarterback having shared a locker room with third-year pro Matt Ryan.

“The quarterback is the leader of the team and the way he carries himself is the way everybody wants to follow,” he said. “I see he’s a hardworking man and he’s the leader of this team. Everybody feeds off of him.”

Houston actually got firsthand look at Stafford when the Falcons played the Lions in the 2009 preseason opener.

“He did real good against us,” said Houston. “He’s very talented and as long as he’s positive everybody’s going to follow. He has a lot of confidence in himself and I see him working.”