Slow start by pass rush not a concern for Chiefs yet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The preseason has been a quiet one for the Kansas City Chiefs' top three pass-rushers.

Justin Houston has been involved in four tackles but has no sacks or quarterback pressures. Dee Ford chased and almost caught Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton last week but has no official stats. Tamba Hali hasn’t practiced or played since the start of training camp and won’t be available Friday night when the preseason continues against the Seahawks in Seattle.

Houston and Ford haven’t played much thus far. They were in for four snaps each in the preseason opener against the 49ers and left before halftime against the Bengals last week.

So the Chiefs aren’t yet concerned about a repeat performance from their pass rush, which sagged to near the bottom of the NFL in sacks last season.

How much those numbers improves depends on the three staying healthy. The plan for Hali, who is bothered by chronically sore knees, is to return to practice in time for him to be ready to play in the Sept. 7 season opener against the Patriots in New England.

Houston hasn’t played a full season since 2014. An ACL injury in 2015 not only cut into his playing time and production that season, but last year as well. The last time Houston played a full season, however, he had 22 sacks, a half-sack off the NFL record.

Houston said during training camp that he’s healthy for the first time in almost two years.

“If he feels healthy, that’s a huge step," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “I think he’s kind of got that where he feels like ‘I’m back to where I was physically,’ and that can be nothing but a real positive for us. As we all know, he’s a real good football player, and I think he’s getting back in the mental part of it where you react and go. Any time you don’t get to play a lot -- and he was in and out (of the lineup) last year even when he came back -- it takes awhile to get that reaction ... where it’s normal, where you’re not that one click behind.

“He’s done a good job, and we’re excited that he’s back and healthy."

Ford had 10 sacks in the season’s first nine games last year but was shut out after that until the playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I think he’s showing significant improvement in a lot of different areas," Sutton said. “In my way of thinking, Dee has become much more of a complete linebacker. We all know he has some great talent to rush the quarterback, but he’s been doing a really good job in all phases of the game, from running defense to covering and that.

“He’s been pretty doggone consistent in here, and I think that will pay dividends as we get ready for the season."

The Chiefs have five sacks in their two preseason games but only two by players who are likely to last until the regular season, one from defensive lineman Allen Bailey and one by inside linebacker Ukeme Eligwe.