That outlook changed on Tuesday, however.

Kansas City head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder told reporters at the owner's meetings that Houston, who was hampered by a knee "sprain" late in the 2015 season, had the joint scoped shortly after the Chiefs were bounced from the playoffs by the New England Patriots.

The defensive end will have surgery to fix his ACL, an operation that could take 6-12 months to recover from. Thankfully for the Chiefs, Ford came on strong past year and looks capable of continued success playing on the edge of the team's 3-4 defense.

The Chiefs will have Dee Ford replace Houston if he were to miss part or all of the season. He did make a brief return for the playoffs but his game time was very limited. That means he could return as soon as August or miss the entire 2016 season.

Last November, Houston injured his knee in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

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Houston was an All-Pro in 2014 when he had 22 sacks to lead the NFL.

Will Justin Houston be ready for the start of the regular season?

Despite playing just 11 regular-season games last season, Houston still had 7 1/2 sacks. “It’s too early to be able to tell on that.”Houston hurt a knee last season, but at the time it was diagnosed a hyper-extension.

Although the ligament wasn't torn, a scope on Houston's knee revealed that his ACL was not functioning properly. They only allowed one team to score as many as 20 points during that stretch (Oakland in Week 13, a 34-20 Kansas City victory), and held the Chargers to three points in Week 14.

The Chiefs recently re-signed their other outside linebacker, Tamba Hali.