After a blistering start that may have conjured up memories of former Chiefs icon Derrick Thomas, outside linebacker Justin Houston can now say he has something else in common with Thomas.
On Wednesday, Houston became the first Chief since Thomas to be chosen AFC defensive player of the week twice in the same season. After a dominating opening-week performance against Jacksonville in which he recorded three sacks, Houston won the honor again after terrorizing Philadelphia for 4 1/2 sacks Thursday.
“When you’ve got guys covering their guys the whole time and the big guys in the middle pushing the pocket and Tamba (Hali) rushing from the other side, it’s very easy to make plays,” Houston said.
Houston, who has league-leading 7 1/2 sacks, has a point. Hali and nose guard Dontari Poe have been disruptive up front, while the secondary has embraced the challenge of playing in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s man-to-man scheme. And don’t forget about veteran inside linebacker Derrick Johnson.
“I’m getting all the benefits of it,” Houston said. “But it’s a team effort.”
Houston’s 4 1/2 sacks against Philadelphia were the third-highest single-game total of any Chiefs player, trailing only Thomas, who had an NFL-record seven in 1990 and six in 1998.
“I’ll probably be a target,” Houston said of winning the award, “but I’ve got other guys that can make plays just as well as I can. It’s hard to target one guy when you’ve got several guys starting to do the same thing.”
Turns out running back Jamaal Charles isn’t the only player in the Chiefs’ backfield opposing defenses must account for on the ground.
While Charles leads the team with 224 rushing yards, quarterback Alex Smith is second with 114 yards and a team-high 5.0 yards-per-carry average.
Though he’s been sacked 10 times — tied with four other teams for the sixth most in the league — Smith has escaped pressure and gained yards on other plays.
“It’s something that I’ve always, as a quarterback, tried to take a lot of pride in,” Smith said. “Defenses are going to play certain ways sometimes, and there’s kind of hidden yards … you can get, especially in the passing game, if you’re able to use your feet and convert some first downs.”
Guard Jeff Allen (strain), cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee), tight end Anthony Fasano (foot), tight end Travis Kelce (knee) and safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) did not practice. Fasano and Kelce missed the Chiefs’ 26-16 win over the Eagles on Thursday, but the others played.
Fullback Anthony Sherman (knee) practiced Wednesday.
The Star’s Randy Covitz contributed to this report.