CB Chris Houston's health and playmaking ability key for Lions secondary

Posted Jul 8, 2012

Cornerback Chris Houston was a playmaker in the Lions secondary last season. He had five interceptions (tied for eighth in NFL) and was tied for the league lead with two interception returns for touchdowns.

Houston’s 2011 season was the best of his young career, and that has him entering the season as the team’s No. 1 cornerback.

“I don’t too much think of it like that,” Houston said of being the Lions’ most reliable cornerback heading into training camp. “I think I have to prove myself every year. I come in here hungry. I don’t really look at myself as No. 1 or No. 2, I look at myself as trying to improve.”

Despite Houston’s playmaking ability in the Lions secondary last season, he went relatively unnoticed by players, coaches and the fans when it came time for the Pro Bowl voting. Even with his five interceptions, two touchdowns and 225 interception return yards (fourth-most in team history), Houston received few Pro Bowl votes and wasn’t even an alternate on the NFC roster.

“I feel I’m underrated,” Houston said. “But I like that. I don’t like to be in the limelight.”

Houston and his fellow Lions defensive backs were in the limelight for all the wrong reasons at the end of last year. Injuries decimated the unit, including knee injuries to Houston and safety Louis Delmas suffered against the Packers on Thanksgiving.

"The last two games of the season, it was kind of a drop off," Houston said of last year’s two losses to finish the season against the Packers and Saints, when the Lions allowed 946 yards passing and nine touchdowns. "Before that, for those 13, 14 games, we were up there in the top (of the NFL pass rankings). If we can stay healthy, we're going to surprise a lot of people."

That starts with Houston. Over the last three seasons, he’s missed six games due to injury. He hasn’t played in a full 16-game schedule since 2008, when he was with the Falcons.

With third-year cornerback Aaron Berry heading into training camp as the other starter and nickel cornerback Jacob Lacey still trying to acclimate himself with his new teammates, the Lions are counting on Houston to be healthy and even more of a playmaker than he was a year ago.