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Patrick Mahomes II dropped back to pass during a recent Chiefs practice Mark Walton Jersey Bengals , and before the new quarterback even had time to set up, fearsome pass rusher Justin Houston was staring him in the eyes.
Without Mahomes turning his back, either.
The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker has primarily played on the right side during his career, which means he's been chasing quarterbacks down from their blind side. But his new position coach, Mike Smith, intends to line Houston up opposite the weakest player on an opponent's offensive line, and often that will mean facing the right tackle rather than the left.
"It doesn't matter what side. I want to be everywhere," Houston said this week. "The weakest link is where I want to be. Every team is different. Everybody has a different weak link. So whoever has the weakest link, wherever it is, that's where I want to be."
Just so long as it's on the field.
Houston spent a lot of time on the sideline the last few years as a career that once seemed destined for the Hall of Fame was slowed by injuries. He piled up 22 sacks in 2014, a half-sack shy of the single-season NFL record, and was rewarded with a $101 million, six-year contract that made him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league.
But after playing well the first 11 games the following season, Houston hyperextended his knee in Week 12, and what seemed like a relatively benign injury had lasting ramifications.
He tried to return in the playoffs but was ineffective in a win over Houston and a divisional loss to New England. And that hyperextended knee turned out to reveal a "non-functioning" ligament, causing Houston to undergo serious knee surgery in February 2016.
He wound up missing the first nine games that season, and after appearing in a handful midway through the year http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-alex-mcgough-jersey , was shut down until the playoffs. The Chiefs had hoped Houston would be able to help them when it mattered, but he was again ineffective in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Even last season, when Houston continually professed himself healthy, he never appeared to be going full speed. He was listed as questionable on the injury report twice because of his knee, and he finished the season with 9陆 sacks in 15 regular-season games.
It wasn't until training camp, a few weeks back, that he acknowledged "playing on one leg."
"When you have surgery, and the surgery I had on my knee, it takes time," Houston said. "As much as you want to be ready, it still takes time to get your pop back and get where you want to be. I think I'm there. I think I'm beyond there right now and it feels great to be back in that feeling."
His fellow linebackers have noticed, too.
"Justin, he's starting to really go back to that 22-sack guy, so we have an opportunity to be one of the best (pass-rushing groups) in the league," Dee Ford said. "People don't understand how bad his injury was and how he also tried to play, and he tried to come back too fast, and he's not an excuse guy and you got to really respect that."
One could argue that nobody is more crucial to the Chiefs' defense than Houston Authentic Kolton Miller Jersey , given the way the defense has been overhauled. Longtime pass rusher Tamba Hali is gone, and Ford has dealt with his share of injuries, resulting in a precipitous drop in sacks the past couple of years.
Throw in the departure of playmaking cornerback Marcus Peters, who was traded to the Rams in a move designed to improve club morale, and the pressure is on Houston to, well, create some pressure.
"Would you love to have a million sacks? Yeah, I would love that. But the biggest thing is always affecting the quarterback," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "Obviously you can affect his timing. You don't have to sack him. But as long as you are moving him, and making him get off that spot a little bit, then you can affect him."
Houston should be able to help now that's moving around more.
Both on his knee and all over the field.
NOTES: OLs Cam Erving (knee) and Eric Fisher (shoulder) left Thursday's practice with "tweaks," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. Mitchell Schwartz moved from RT to LT, Andrew Wylie took over at RT and Bryan Witzmann took over at LG. ... The Chiefs are off Friday before resuming camp on Saturday.
Gerard Gallant and the Vegas Golden Knights still think Tom Wilson’s third-period hit on Jonathan Marchessault in the Stanley Cup Final opener was too late and probably a bit dirty.
The coach also believes it sparked his team’s comeback victory in that Game 1 thriller.
So while he wasn’t happy to hear Wilson will face no discipline from the NHL, Gallant is hoping his team will remember the hit – and more importantly, how they played right after it – when they attempt to take a 2-0 series lead on the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night on the Strip.
”The good thing about the hit is it really woke our team up,” Gallant said after an optional practice at the Golden Knights’ suburban training complex. ”I think it was a 4-4 game?”
Indeed, two novice Stanley Cup finalists were deep into an entertainingly ramshackle opener Authentic Kendall Wright Jersey , but the Knights took charge after that fateful collision left Marchessault sprawled on the ice. Vegas quickly got Tomas Nosek’s go-ahead goal , eventually won 6-4 and surged one game closer to an improbable championship.
The focused aggression necessary to be a successful postseason team is a delicate concoction. The Golden Knights and Caps both had it during the conference playoffs, but they both admit it got away from them in Game 1.
”I think both teams can be better,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ”It was a pretty sloppy game.”
After one game to get used to the sky-high stakes of the last round of this tournament, both teams intend to channel their nervous energy more constructively in the future. Both coaches stressed the importance of discipline, completing assignments and not allowing the frenetic Vegas crowd to overwhelm their emotions.
”There’s obviously nerves,” Washington’s Jay Beagle said. ”I’m not surprised at anything anymore, but in the Stanley Cup Final, usually it’s 2-1 or 1-0, not (6-4). But you don’t know what to expect from a team that you don’t know that much. Now we’ve got to know them a little bit more.”
The mistakes that worry coaches also lead to exciting hockey, and the opener was thoroughly entertaining even before Wilson lowered the boom on Marchessault. The teams combined for a Final-record four lead changes in the highest-scoring opener in eight years for this final round.
Wilson, who served a three-game suspension in the second round for breaking the jaw of Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese, and the Capitals still insist the hard-charging forward did nothing wrong when he leveled the Golden Knights’ top playoff scorer.
”It’s within the rules,” Wilson said after practice at T-Mobile Arena. ”It’s a clean hit. I don’t know why it got so much media attention, to be honest. It’s a hard hit, but that’s the day and age we’re in. … I’m trying to play my game. There’s a lot of those hits that are going on, but it’s the Stanley Cup Final Derrius Guice Jersey Redskins , and it’s within the rules.”
The NHL Department of Player Safety agreed when it decided not to discipline Wilson for the shoulder-to-shoulder hit, clearly deciding that Wilson’s timing wasn’t extraordinarily late.
Marchessault went to the dressing room and was examined for a possible concussion, but returned to the game. Gallant said the forward is feeling fine for Game 2.
The Capitals had their own complaint about Vegas forward David Perron, who jumped on the ice after the whistle and made contact with Washington captain Alex Ovechkin during the scuffles immediately after the hit.
Once the emotions died down, both teams realized they’ve got to check their more primal urges if they hope to play a solid game on the NHL’s biggest stage. The atmosphere in Las Vegas for the city’s first Final has been electric, but the Caps weren’t intimidated by the frenzied crowd.
Washington goalie Braden Holtby said the biggest difference about playing in Vegas is ”the bass they put in the building. Maybe that’s a little false when … you’re literally shaking from the bass. That’s the only difference. (Their) fans are loud. Our fans are loud. Tampa’s, Pitt’s, Columbus, all fans are loud.”
The condition of the T-Mobile Arena ice also caused occasional problems for both teams with its inconsistencies and general roughness, but nobody is claiming the first-year NHL building has any unusual problems. The conditions certainly didn’t hurt the offensive players in any meaningful way, given the final score.
”Ice isn’t an excuse, because it’s the same for both teams,” Holtby said. ”You just want to figure it out quicker than them, and obviously they’ve had the advantage playing here for a while. Our ice isn’t any different than it is here. It’s just little differences. When it’s that hot out, there’s always one thing that’s not great. We’re just figuring out what you can and can’t do.”
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