By Larry Mayer (Chicagobears.com)
CHICAGO .-The Bears won’t put their pads on and hit in practice until late next month in training camp. But one of their key free agent acquisitions already likes what he sees on defense.
“It’s a hard-working group of guys,” defensive end Lamarr Houston said after Tuesday’s OTA practice. “A group of guys that love football, that are passionate about football, and they come out every day to work. That’s what I’ve been told and that’s what I see and it’s really inspiring and it makes you excited to come out here every day.”
Houston signed with the Bears on the first day of free agency in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Raiders. The 6-3, 302-pounder appeared in all 64 games with 60 starts in Oakland, recording 226 tackles, 16 sacks, one interception, five passes defensed, 37 tackles-for-loss, four forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
Last season Houston started all 16 games for the second straight year, establishing career highs with 69 tackles and six sacks while also compiling two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
After signing Houston, the Bears continued to bolster their defensive line in free agency by inking veteran ends Jared Allen, Willie Young and Israel Idonije.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Houston welcomes the competition.
“It’s not a problem,” he said. “They got guys that are going to compete, and they want to create an atmosphere to be competitive. They’re doing that out here and everybody’s competing and working and everybody’s trying to get the job.”
Houston is especially excited about teaming with Allen, a five-time Pro Bowler who has averaged 14.5 sacks over the past seven seasons, never registering fewer than 11 during that span. Allen’s 128.5 sacks over 10 seasons with the Chiefs (2004-07) and Vikings (2008-13) are the most by any player since he entered the league and the 12th most in history.
“I think we’ll develop a great chemistry,” Houston said. “He’s got the most knowledge of football I know. The guy’s had [128.5] sacks. You can’t ask for more than that just to get to sit with him every day and talk about football and understand different things about the game. It’s a blessing really.”
Houston possesses the strength, size and quickness to move inside to tackle in passing situations, something that he’ll be eager to do to help the defense.
“It creates a lot of mismatches for different teams; creates a lot of versatility for our defensive coach thinking it’s great if I can go inside and go outside,” Houston said. “Anything they want me to do to help us win I’m willing to do it.”