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Alex Smith to start vs. Panthers; Justin Houston closer to return

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs will get starting quarterback Alex Smith back for next Sunday's game against the Carolina while linebacker Justin Houston could play for the first time this season against the Carolina Panthers.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid made the decision that Smith wouldn't play in Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after the quarterback was removed twice from the previous game against the Colts with symptoms of a concussion.

Both the Chiefs and Smith said he didn't have a concussion, but he was put through the NFL's protocol anyway and deactivated for the Jaguars game as a precaution.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said before Sunday's game Smith had been cleared to play by independent doctors. Smith practiced last week, though with the scout team.

"There were no signs of anything," Reid said. "It was just business as normal. Things like headaches or dizziness -- there was none of that. He went out and functioned well on the scout team part of it. There was no hesitation when bodies were flying around him. He wasn't flinching. They were all positive signs."

Backup Nick Foles quarterbacked the Chiefs to a 19-14 victory against the Jaguars on Sunday.

Houston will be activated off the physically unable to perform list this week, making him eligible to play for the first time since having surgery in February to repair a balky ACL in his left knee.

Reid indicated a decision wouldn't be made on whether Houston would play against the Panthers until later in the week.

"We'll see how he does this week," Reid said. "He'll let me know on that, how he feels. He's obviously been cleared to play, but there's more to it than that. You've got to make sure you're right and you have opportunities to practice and get yourself back.

"We're not in a hurry there. We just want to make sure that he's safe going out there and playing. I'm not sure we realize how severe of an injury he had there. This guy has really pushed through. His work ethic has really driven him to this point here. He's been a beast on this thing. It's been fun to watch but tough for him to push through. He's done great with it."

Houston has practiced with the Chiefs for the past three weeks.

"He's looked very good out there, I'll tell you," Reid said. "He's moving around [well]."