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Justin Houston played ‘16 and ‘17 seasons “pretty much on one leg”

Houston said this offseason was the first time he felt 100 percent since his knee injury in 2015

Kansas City Chiefs v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Author’s note: AP reader Matt Negron stood next to me in St. Joseph on Sunday and asked for a shoutout. Good call on the poncho, Matt.


On Wednesday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford told the Kansas City media that Justin Houston had finally returned to 2014 form. In 2014, Houston racked up 22 sacks, coming within a half-sack of the all-time single-season league record.

On Sunday, Houston confirmed Ford’s words.

“I can feel it,” Houston said. “When you have surgery and the surgery I had on my knee, it takes time. As much as you want to be ready, it still just takes time to get your pop back and get where you want to be at. So I think I’m there, and I’m beyond there right now. I just feel great to be back in that feeling.”

Houston underwent knee surgery prior to the 2016 season and only returned for five regular-season games. He played a full year in 2017 and looked better, but he was still not the dominant force we had become accustomed to seeing back in ‘14.

Now we know there’s a reason for that.

“I didn’t have all my strength in that leg,” Houston said. “I was out there pretty much on one leg, but no excuses—I was out there, so I had to do my job.”

Houston said he felt 100 percent for the first time since his original injury in 2015 this offseason.

“I felt more comfortable doing everything,” he said. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing everything when I was playing. Now it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I feel comfortable doing it.”

Both Anthony Hitchens and Kendall Fuller were big additions to the Chiefs defense this offseason.

But if Houston is really back to 2014 form, that addition may be the biggest.

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