Justin Houston returned to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, and while the outside linebacker probably won’t play in the Chiefs’ game Sunday against the Saints, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was pleased with what he saw.
“I thought he did good,” Sutton said. “As you guys know, he did a very limited amount in individual. He did a little bit of scout-team stuff. I think it was another step forward in this whole process. Hopefully, he’s getting closer and closer to returning. We’ve got to be patient, and smart, and see where he’s at.”
Sutton was asked how he’ll know Houston, who had an anterior cruciate ligament repaired in February, is ready.
“I don’t know if a coach can really tell you that,” Sutton said. “I think he has to be the guy that says, ‘Hey, I feel good. I’m OK. I’m ready to roll and go.’ There’s a process — just like we talked about E.B. (Eric Berry) when he came back — you go through with your reaction time.
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“You have to be tested ... you just have to see it enough times, see it at that speed. So, I think that’s the final step. You get used to seeing things moving fast and you go. Obviously, how hard we do in practice is not as fast as a game.”
Sutton essentially said he and the rest of the staff want to see Houston break, turn and change direction on the knee fluidly before he’s allowed to dress for a game.
“Those would be obvious to us and probably him as well,” Sutton said. “I’m sure every player as he gets close thinks, ‘I’m definitely ready. I’m ready to go, and I want to get back out here and get going.’ That’s why I say you have to be careful and patient as a coach, as much as we want him back.”
The Chiefs — who rank second-to-last in the NFL in sacks with seven — have three weeks to evaluate Houston at practice and activate him from the physically unable to perform list. If they deem him unfit to return at the end of that window, he will have to sit for the rest of the season.
▪ Also Thursday, the Chiefs added defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and cornerback Tyler Patmon to the practice squad. Patmon, 25, is a former Kansas Jayhawk.