The Kansas City Chiefs were able to celebrate the return of star safety, Eric Berry this week. With Berry back in the fold, we all turn our attention to Justin HHouston and his return.
Kansas City Chiefs fans got welcome news Sunday evening when Terez Paylor confirmed Eric Berry had signed his Franchise Tag. Without Berry, the Chiefs defense was not what fans were hoping for this preseason. That was especially true in the secondary. Berry should go a long way towards strengthening that group. However, this now shifts the focus to the return of pass rusher Justin Houston.
During the offseason, news of a knee injury for Justin Houston blindsided Chiefs Kingdom. It is no secret the Chiefs depend heavily on the pass rush. Without Houston, that pass rush becomes markedly more difficult to generate. Chiefs fans were understandably concerned about what Houston’s injury meant for the team in 2016.
Clarity on Houston’s injury did not help matters. It became known that the knee injury was the same one that had sidelined Houston at the end of the 2015 season. Chiefs fans, led by a couple of local radio personalities, became upset with the front office. However, it is hard to blame the Chiefs as Justin Houston received clearance to play by the renowned Dr James Andrews.
None the less, the Kansas City Chiefs figure to start the 2016 season without Houston in the lineup. The real question now is whether Houston will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list or not. A PUP list designation means Houston misses the first six games of the season.
The current timetable for Justin Houston is 6-12 months from the time of his surgery. Six months would put Houston available at the start of the season. Twelve months means Houston misses the whole year. As far as the Chiefs are concerned, General Manager John Dorsey states that he expects Houston back sometime during the season. However, Dorsey has been noncommittal on that stance.
A new wrinkle to the Houston return has come into play with the Chiefs hosting veteran pass rusher Paul Kruger. With the Chiefs pass rush struggling, it is no surprise the team is looking at their options. However, bringing in a veteran like Kruger may signify that there is little faith that Houston will return soon. Pursuing, and potentially signing Kruger, may mean nothing at all about Houston’s return, but one has to consider all options.
Chiefs fans will be waiting with bated breath during the next week until we get answers. Justin Houston was at Training Camp, rehabbing with the team. However, that is not an indication that he will be ready for the season. The big question is whether Houston starts the season on the PUP list or not. My thoughts? I believe (or at least hope) Justin Houston will be ready to go early enough in the season that the Kansas City Chiefs do not place him on the PUP list.
The Kansas City Chiefs are poised to have a great 2016 season. However, the quest for a Super Bowl can certainly hinge on the availability of a superstar pass rusher. The Chiefs need Justin Houston on the field, that is without question. When Houston will be available…very much in question.