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NOTEBOOK: Houston hopes to return this season

Help could soon be on the way for Detroit's pass rush.

Linebacker James Houston said this week he is nearing the end of his rehab from a broken fibula he suffered in a Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and expects to play again in the regular season.

"Timeline is looking like I could definitely get back before the playoffs," Houston said. "It definitely feels good. I feel like I didn't really get too much games under my belt or really any type of experience other than not too good of plays (before being injured), so I'm ready to get back out there, just kind of see how it is."

The Lions play in Chicago on Sunday and close the regular season with games vs. Denver, at Minnesota, at Dallas and vs. Minnesota.

Houston was injured covering a kick in the Lions' home loss to the Seahawks when Seattle's Nick Bellore hit him. Houston said his foot 'got stuck in the ground' as he fell over it.

"I'm probably on the last quarter of the rehab and so yeah, it's probably a really important quarter for me just to kind of make sure everything is right, mentally, physically, and I get the checks and clears from everybody," he said. "There's nothing really I can't do, it's just the process of how these things mature."

The Lions rank 27th in the NFL with 25 sacks on the year. Houston was one of Detroit's top pass rushers with eight sacks in seven games as a rookie last year. He said one of the advantages of being out this long and returning late season is that his body hasn't been through the rigors of an NFL season, and he'll be fresh and ready to roll when he returns.


Lions head coach Dan Campbell said veteran edge rusher Bruce Irvin is up for more reps this week in Chicago. Irvin played 11 snaps in his Lions debut in New Orleans and made an impact with a sack, a tackle for loss and a few nice rushes. He sat out practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, but was back at practice Thursday which is a good sign he'll play in Chicago and we'll see him on the field more against the Bears.

"We would like to work him in more," Campbell said this week. "And that was the plan last week was give him some opportunities and then see where he's at there, see how he handled it, see how his body is and then potentially get him some more, so we're looking into that. But yeah, I would say he's earned that."


The weather looks to be trending in the right direction in Chicago with precipitation originally forecasted for Sunday now looking like it will hit the area on Saturday. Sunday will be mid-30s with no precipitation with winds of 10-20 miles per hour.

Whatever the conditions end up being Sunday, Lions quarterback Jared Goff is confident it won't be much of an issue.

"Yeah, whatever it may be, we'll be ready, and I'll be ready," he said. "And I've played in cold games, and windy games and all sorts of games. So, yeah, we'll see what it is, and I'll be ready to go."


A week into his 21-day practice window rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker is making good progress, quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell said Wednesday.

Hooker is doing mostly just individual work with Goff taking all the offensive reps and backup Teddy Bridgewater taking the scout reps, but just getting to work with Hooker through the individual periods has been valuable.

"We're shuffling through bags and he's taking a drop and I'm hitting him. Ball security drills. We've got this net that has holes you throw through and he's been amazing," Brunell said.

"You have to start somewhere, and I think each week he'll feel more and more comfortable and certainly he's a talented kid."

Hooker was on his way to potentially winning the Heisman Trophy last season before suffering a torn ACL vs. South Carolina last November. Hooker was completing 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,135 yards with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 11 games before suffering the injury. He also rushed for 430 yards (4.1 average) with five touchdowns. He's got a strong arm and good athletic traits at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.

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