Chiefs should play Houston if he's ready

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs should play outside linebacker Justin Houston on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium if he’s ready to go. By all appearances at practice on Thursday, Houston is preparing to play.

Houston, wearing a brace on his injured right elbow, hit the sled during an individual drill at practice, something the injury wouldn’t allow him to do last week. Houston has been getting work with the starters, also something that didn’t happen last week.

“He’s practicing,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He’s in a lot of the drills. He’s worked with the first group. It’s really day to day and drill to drill, kind of.

“It’s great to see him back out there. The thing I really appreciate about Justin is that he’s practicing like he’s trying to play. That’s what we need him to do. We’ll just see where it goes. Hopefully we can get him [back]. He would be a great boost for us.’’

The Chiefs led the San Diego Chargers 14-3 in the second quarter on Nov. 24 when they lost Houston, then tied for third in the NFL with 11 sacks. For the rest of that game and for two of the three games since, the Chiefs haven’t been the same without him.

If Houston is physically ready to play, he needs to play both on Sunday against the Colts and in the final regular-season game against the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 29. The Chiefs, at 11-3, have much to play for. They have clinched a playoff spot but can still win the AFC West and the first-round bye that would likely go along with that.

Houston also could use the work after missing 3 1/2 games.

“The first priority obviously is that we want him healthy,’’ Sutton said. “That’s not earth-shattering or anything. Obviously it’s advantageous for him if he can get back out there. It’s a benefit. The first priority is getting him 100 percent healthy. The second is getting him out there and getting him used to it. He’s got to get used to playing with a brace a little bit.’’