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Houston's versatility makes him a target

9/27/2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Outside linebacker Justin Houston made the Pro Bowl last season, so he was hardly a secret coming into 2013. But because he leads in sacks with 7.5 after three weeks of the NFL season, Houston is suddenly going to attract more attention from Kansas City Chiefs' opponents.

Whether by sliding the protection toward Houston’s side, greeting him with a back or tight end or some other method, Houston will undoubtedly start to see more bodies in his way as he attempts to get to the opposing quarterback. The New York Giants, who play against the Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, have had their problems protecting quarterback Eli Manning this season.

Just don’t expect the Giants to stand by and allow Houston to ruin their day, as he did to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener by getting three sacks or the Philadelphia Eagles last week by getting 4.5.

How Houston adjusts to the extra attention will be a critical factor for the Chiefs. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton brought up an interesting point, that Houston’s versatility will make him a difficult target for opponents.

“One of the strengths that Justin has is that he is a really good all-around football player," Sutton said. “He’s not a one-trick pony. He doesn’t just rush the passer. When you’re a really good football player and you can do something like he’s been doing rushing, sometimes those answers aren’t as easy to find.

"(Houston) can rush, he can drop and he can play the run well. When you do all of those things like that, sometimes your adjustment is to say, 'OK I’m going to offset this guy by running at him and offset this guy by getting (him) into coverage.' But he’s done a really good job in all of those phases. It’s hard to say you’re going to gang up on Justin."