With the Chicago Bears’ training camp in Bourbonnais just around the corner, Grizzly Detail is taking a look at some of the new players donning jerseys this season, and in this edition we stick to the defensive line as we examine what defensive end Lamarr Houston is hoping to bring to the team.
Drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Houston spent the first four seasons of his career with the Oakland Raiders, and he got a reputation as an effective run-stopper for the team. He did occasionally pitch in on the pass rush, racking up 16.5 sacks during his tenure there, and he had 171 solo tackles over those four seasons. He has never missed an NFL game, so his health isn’t a big concern, and he signed a five-year, $35 million contract with Chicago early in free agency.
What the Bears Hope He Will Bring:
The Bears were a mess on the defensive line last season, with Julius Peppers routinely getting beaten in one-on-one matchups and injuries wreaking havoc on the middle of the line, with Henry Melton and Nate Collins both being knocked out for the season with injuries. Shea McClellin also wasn’t a fit there, so the Bears went into the offseason looking to revamp the group.
With the signings of Houston and Jared Allen, as well as the drafting of Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson, GM Phil Emery has infused new life into the line, and Houston is going to be a big part of it. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times had some interesting numbers to back up the contention that Allen should help increase Houston’s sack totals, but the young defensive end is looking to prove that he is an excellent player in his own right too.
The Bears will not only be looking for him to help stop the run (something the team was woefully bad at last season), they will also be relying on him to get some pressure on the quarterback to reduce the pressure on the secondary to make plays deep down the field. He has the speed to get around the edge on those plays, and he should get plenty of chances in one-on-one situations with Allen demanding double teams on the other side of the line.
From what we’ve seen of Houston, it seems like he is the type of player who has the potential to be an excellent pass rusher and a splendid run stopper, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together just yet. Working with Allen and a completely revamped line should help a great deal with that, but the onus will be on Houston to prove that he is a versatile end that can play in all situations. The Bears will desperately need him to, and while it’s a decent bet that he will meet the expectations that the team has for him, he still has some work to do to prove himself.