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Outside linebacker Justin Houston was already going to be counted on to shoulder a heavy load for the Kansas City Chiefs defense during the 2012 season.
But Tamba Hali's one-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy will put Houston in the spotlight in the Chiefs' Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
While Hali is eligible to play in the final two preseason games, all eyes will be on Houston to see if he can make up for the absence of Hali in the season opener.
Hali's presence undoubtedly makes Houston better, but how will Houston respond with Hali out of the lineup?
Since the Chiefs know what they will get from Hali once he is eligible to return in Week 2, they would do well to run a set of plays for the first-string defense against the Seahawks Friday night, keeping Hali on the sidelines. This will give head coach Romeo Crennel a little insight on how the pass rush will be affected without its star on the field.
Lining up against Matt Ryan and Co. on Sept. 9 was already looking to be a big test for the Chiefs defense. But with Hali not available, Houston might need to play the game of his life for Kansas City to keep Atlanta's high-powered offense at bay.
Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy and at popflyboys.com.