James Houston stormed onto the NFL scene last year the second half of the season.
After making his NFL debut on Thanksgiving for the Lions Week 12, Houston ranked second among all NFL rookies in sacks with 8.0. He owns the record for most sacks through seven career games in NFL history.
He has a unique skillset and an ability to bend without losing speed that makes him a really tough pass rusher off the edge to block. Heading into his second season, both he and the Lions are trying to find ways to keep him on the field for more than just situational rush plays.
"Look we're doing a lot at SAM linebacker when we're in base defense and then certainly he'll play some of that sub D-End or get a chance to on third down," Campbell said this week when asked about Houston's development going into Year 2. "So, we know he has some ability and craft, but we're trying to really expand his horizons if you will.
"Man, if he can play some of this SAM backer, Charles (Harris) is really the starter right now. (Houston) he has to dive into the playbook. He has to know the calls. He has to understand all the adjustments to formations, things of that nature and that's where once he grows, if he can get to that point, now he – potentially, he didn't come off the field, but he has a long way to go before that happens."
That's the challenge given to Houston heading into his second training camp, and credit him for embracing it head on these first few days of camp.
"I look at myself as a football player," Houston said. "I feel like I can play multiple positions on the field so really whatever the team asks me to do I'm willing to do whatever they ask."
View photos from Day 3 of Detroit Lions training camp on Tuesday July 25, 2023.
The Lions are pretty deep along the edge with Aidan Hutchinson and Harris getting most of the first-team reps to begin camp. Houston, Josh Paschal, John Cominsky, Romeo Okwara and Julian Okwara work in from there. Houston's ability to pick up more of the playbook and understand not only how he fits into the mix but also those around him, will ultimately determine if he can average more than the 20 snaps per game he had as a rookie in 2022.
"That's been my whole focus," Houston said about earning more reps. "Just trying to become a complete player in all aspects of my game and just bring it to another level."