Lamarr Houston: Dedicated to Rushing the Passer CHICAGO — With the addition of Lamarr Houston the Chicago Bears made a statement, the defense needed an overhaul and they were willing to spend the money to do just that. Houston signed a 5-year, $35 million dollar contract with $15 million guaranteed. Not chump change, especially for a player who has just 16 career sacks; however, Houston, who just turned 27, is coming off a career season in which he rated out as one of the very best defensive ends against the run. Pairing him with Jared Allen was extremely smart and another great move by Phil Emery. In today’s NFL, it’s quite common for a player to be required to add muscle or shed some weight in order to deal with a position change. With that new position comes new responsibilities. This can happen for numerous reasons, a change in team or a change in scheme, in Houston’s case — both. Yes, Oakland ran a 4-3 scheme, but he was not utilized a way in which he will be here in Chicago. Houston came to the 2010 scouting combine out of Texas at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, and that’s the weight he played at during his rookie season with the Raiders, who selected him in the second round. Houston started out as a defensive tackle who could kick out to end in Oakland’s hybrid schemes. Over the years, Houston continued dropping weight, and in 2013, he essentially played as an outside pass-rushing linebacker — at 275 pounds. Houston won’t play that old tackle/end role in Chicago, nor will he line up with his hand off the ground outside the tackle as he did in 2013. The Bears see him as the logical replacement to Julius Peppers, who bailed for Green Bay in the offseason. The question is, how does Houston continue to drop weight (body fat) yet maintain his functional strength inside the trenches. Enter elite NFL trainer, Travelle Gaines. This is the man most responsible for the transformation of Lamarr Houston. “Well, it starts right from the diet,” Houston told me. “That’s really important. What you’re putting in your body to burn fuel throughout the day and to speed up your metabolism — that’s going to dictate how you drop weight. Do you drop weight all at once? Are you doing it little by little, or in big chunks? It can be unhealthy. So, it’s really about your diet, and how you eat. “The other key is the type of workouts you’re doing. Is it more cardio, so you’re just burning fat and not really building muscle, or is it high-intensity workouts that build muscle? Sustaining muscle and burning fat — you have to look at those two things when it comes to weight loss. What’s the most effective way of doing it without dropping a bunch of weight by burning muscle mass?”Houston has been methodical about the entire process, picking the brains of All Pro offensive tackle Ryan Clady and working out MMA guru Jay Glazer. He branched out in order to understand the intricacies of going from defensive tackle to linebacker to ultimately defensive end. Houston is primed for a real breakout season in Chicago, he is putting in the work and the Bears are in a prime position to reap the benefits!