With Hali out, pressure on Houston

Justin Houston, you must continue to step up ... And get to Matt Ryan.

The NFL announced Monday that star Kansas City Chiefs’ pass-rusher Tamba Hali will be suspended for the opening game against Atlanta on Sept. 9 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. Hali will miss the week of preparation for that game. He will be able to return to the team Sept. 10. He will not be paid for the week he will miss.

"Tamba’s situation is unfortunate," said Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said in a statement released by the team. "Obviously, we are disappointed and will miss him during this suspension, but the NFL's policies are very clear and we respect the league's decision in this matter. We are unable to comment further on this matter or any aspect of the NFL’s Drug Policy.”

Hali is an explosive pass-rusher and he will be missed in that game. Houston, a second-year player, is the Chiefs’ second best pass-rusher and he will have to take a leading role as the Chiefs try to continue to get to Ryan.

Again, this development isn’t crushing for Hali and the Chiefs. It is just one game. It is a manageable situation, but it is a far from ideal way to start the season.

Update: Hali issued an apology following his suspension.

In other AFC West news:

U-T San Diego reports that receiver Vincent Brown could miss the first half of the season with a broken ankle he suffered Saturday night.

Kansas City starting safety Kendrick Lewis will miss time with a shoulder injury he re-aggravated Saturday night. But he will not miss the entire season. Abe Elam will replace him. He is a former starter who was signed as valuable insurance. The Chiefs could do worse than Elam spelling Lewis.

Buffalo released former San Diego star linebacker Shawne Merriman. No, I do not expect the Chargers to consider bringing him back.