Chiefs general manager John Dorsey provided fans with a bit of good news Friday when he revealed in his predraft news conference that star outside linebacker Justin Houston is ahead of schedule in his rehab from offseason knee surgery.
“I know this — I’m not a medical expert, but I can tell you that Justin Houston will be playing this season,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey declined to say when.
“Not being a medical expert, I really can’t definitely tell you that answer,” Dorsey said. “But I would say that our doctors have reassured us that he will play this season.”
The Chiefs revealed March 22 that Houston — their star outside linebacker who was diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee in November — had surgery last month to fix an anterior cruciate ligament.
In late March, Dorsey said the Chiefs and orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who performed Houston’s ACL repair, determined in December that Houston could come back and play on the hyperextended knee, but tests in February showed further knee damage.
Houston was given a six- to 12-month recovery timetable and didn’t have surgery on the knee until a month after the season.
Houston didn’t report for the start of voluntary workouts last week, but Dorsey said Houston and head trainer Rick Burkholder have had regular conversations.
“He was up here last week,” Dorsey said. “I think they are now working together, trying to work out the rehabilitation process.”
Dorsey said Houston is doing great.
“He’s dialed in, he’s excited,” Dorsey said. “When you hear from him, you say he’s going to be Justin Houston when he gets back here.”
Dorsey said the Chiefs have a contingency plan.
“I think, first and foremost, Tamba (Hali)’s here, Dee Ford’s here, and I think when Dee got into the games he began to play, he started to contribute,” Dorsey said. “I think there was one game he had a couple sacks, so he’s got to contribute as that goes on. I would expect good things from those two.”
Dorsey said the key is to now have rotational depth, and the questions turn to whether that comes from within — via veteran special teams ace Frank Zombo and low-cost free-agent signings like Andy Mulumba and Jonathan Massauoi— or via the draft.
The Chiefs held formal interviews with at least three edge rushers at the NFL Combine — Dadi Nicolas of Virginia Tech, Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky and Shaq Lawson of Clemson — which has been an indicator of the Chiefs’ interest in the past.
“As the draft goes along, we’ll see what happens there,” Dorsey said. “But at the end of the day, that Number 50, he’ll be here.”