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Justin Houston expects to be his old self in season debut Sunday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Linebacker Justin Houston hasn't played for the Chiefs since having surgery in February to repair a balky left ACL. But he said he expects to be in midseason form Sunday when he makes his season debut against the Carolina Panthers.

"I expect what I normally do: dominate,'' said Houston, the Chiefs' leader in sacks in each of the last four seasons. He led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014.

Houston returned to practice last month and was activated Wednesday off the physically unable to perform list, making him eligible to play for the first time at Carolina. The Chiefs have yet to indicate how much he would play but Houston said he could handle a big workload.

"I feel I can play the whole game,'' he said. "Physically I feel I can play [the entire game]. My endurance may be a little behind. You can practice and you can run all day but it's not like the actual game.''

Houston initially injured his knee in a game last November against the Buffalo Bills. He missed the remainder of the regular season but returned to play in both of the Chiefs' playoff games. He played little, though, and was ineffective.

Postseason arthroscopic surgery revealed a problem with the ACL. The Chiefs said this injury was not a tear but Houston needed further surgery to repair the problem.

The Chiefs started the season slowly without Houston, winning just two of their first four games. But they've won four straight since and their pass rush has improved. His replacement, Dee Ford, is among the NFL leaders with nine sacks.

"I think the best in the game,'' Houston said when asked how good the Chiefs can be defensively with him back in the lineup. "Hopefully, I can just add to it.''