SANTA CLARA – The Detroit Lions' pass rush is getting some reinforcements for today's NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Second-year edge rusher James Houston is active for the first time since breaking his ankle Week 2 in a loss to Seattle. A sixth-round pick in last year's NFL Draft, Houston racked up eight sacks in seven games as a rookie last season. Detroit activated him off of injured reserve 10 days ago but held him out of their NFC Divisional Round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because he wasn't quite ready to return. He practiced fully all week, wasn't given a designation on Friday's injury report and is active today.
"Yeah, I think he's very close," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said this week of Houston. "The thing that we want to do, we want to protect that player from themselves for the most part. Listen, I do not take injuries lightly, especially making sure we listen to the medical department to make sure we bring that player along exactly how he needs to come along.
"So, he's doing a really good job in practice. You can tell he's getting back to form to where he was. And hopefully, we'll get a chance to put that player on the field, so he can make some plays for us."
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy had a 115.2 passer rating during the regular season when he wasn't pressured, so getting after him will be key for the Lions' defense. Hopefully, Houston can provide some rush to complement Detroit's Pro Bowl edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson on the other side. Hutchinson has eight sacks and 18 quarterback hits in his last four games.
Detroit already knew they would be without starting left guard Jonah Jackson (knee) and wide receiver Kalif Raymond (knee) after they both missed practice all week and were ruled out on Friday. Both are inactive.
Emergency quarterback Hendon Hooker (tooth) and cornerback Chase Lucas (illness) were both questionable coming in but will be available. Hooker is inactive as the emergency quarterback but is available to play if both Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater leave the game and can't return.
Joining Jackson, Raymond and Hooker on Detroit's inactive list against the 49ers are safety Tracy Walker, defensive lineman Charles Harris, cornerback Steven Gilmore and defensive lineman Brodric Martin.