Lions rookie report: James Houston has a great day in first NFL game

In a nail-biting Thanksgiving Day loss, the Detroit Lions put in their best effort against the Buffalo Bills.

Despite the loss, there was a lot to like about the Lions’ performance. The most notable player of the game was an unlikely one: sixth-round pick James Houston, who was elevated from the practice squad just two days ago.

Houston was drafted by Detroit after impressing at Jackson State as a pass rusher. He was used in multiple roles throughout training camp and the preseason, getting time with both the linebackers and defensive linemen throughout practice. He was waived as the team trimmed the roster down to 53 but was brought back to the practice squad immediately after.

In his first career NFL game, Houston showed up in a big way. His first notable play of the day was a fumble recovery after Detroit’s punt returner Kalif Raymond lost the ball in the first quarter. The heads-up play by Houston on special teams kept the drive alive and the Lions were able to capitalize on it.

He then showed off the pass rush skills that got him drafted. Houston took his first defensive snap at the end of the first half and managed to beat the Bills’ offensive line and get to Josh Allen for a sack on a third-and-10.

In the second half, he did it again on third down. Houston shook off two blocks and managed to take Allen down by his ankles to force a Buffalo punt.

Houston is still a member of Detroit’s practice squad, but that shouldn’t be the case for much longer.

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez also had a decent game, especially compared to how he did last Sunday. He defended two passes, one of which was tipped and intercepted by teammate Alex Anzalone. He finished the day with six tackles, one of which went for a loss of yardage.

Safety Kerby Joseph’s stats tell a different story than the quality of his play. The secondary was ravaged by injuries, which made things that much harder for the rookie free safety when defending against Josh Allen and his talented receiving corps. Joseph had six tackles, but many came after getting beat in coverage. He is a talented young player with plenty of potential, but he couldn’t keep up with Buffalo’s offense.

First-round pick Aidan Hutchinson was a non-factor all day. He did not record a stat on defense, but did help apply some pressure on Allen.

Tight end James Mitchell was not used much, but did produce a 22-yard catch-and-run that kept a drive going for Detroit.

Seventh-round cornerback Chase Lucas played in his first game in weeks and recorded one tackle on special teams.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire