Lamarr Houston's New Role

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by WarLax, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. WarLax

    WarLax Rookie

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    http://www.si.com/nfl/2014/07/21/lamarr-houston-chicago-bears-oakland-raiders

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    BY DOUG FARRAR
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    Posted:Fri Jul. 25, 2014

    LOS ANGELES -- Generally speaking, when NFL players are working to lose weight in the offseason, it's a slightly desperate reaction to months of eating too much, partying too hard and rarely thinking about football. It's not like it was in the 1960s and '70s, when players had jobs in the offseason and non-football training was embryonic at best, but the perception is that when players hit training camp, there are those who need to crash through their own fat-laden ceilings before they can really get to work. True in a few cases, but in the modern NFL, if you're not in shape all year long, you generally won't last long.

    More common these days is the player who may have to add or subtract weight to deal with new positional responsibilities. Whether it's due to a change of team or scheme, some guys will essentially have to change their entire shapes -- and if they don't do it the right way, it's no better than what would happen if they hung out at the buffet all summer.

    Defensive lineman Lamarr Houston has never been one to head back for thirds; certainly not during his five-year NFL career. 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. But over the years, he kept dropping weight, and in 2013, he essentially played as an outside pass-rushing linebacker -- at 275 pounds.

    Clearly, that weight loss didn't affect his game. Last season, Houston totaled a career-high six sacks, adding 16 quarterback hits and 41 quarterback hurries for his trouble. Despite starting the offseason with more than $60 million in salary cap space, the Raiders decided to let Houston test the free market, and he wound up signing a five-year, $35 million deal with the Chicago Bears, whose 2013 defensive line was all kinds of disastrous.

    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. So, as he's done since he trained for the combine, Houston came back to Travelle Gaines' gym in Los Angeles and got to work. When I spoke with him last week, I wondered what Gaines had done with the rest of him -- Houston was down to 268 pounds, and over the last four years, he'd dropped his body fat from 15 to 8 percent.

    The question is, how do you drop so much weight and maintain the functional strength required to deal with NFL opponents? For Houston, it's always been about the plans he and Gaines have put together.

    "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?"

    Putting Houston on a high-rep, high-intensity regimen is important, but it's just as crucial that Houston understand that going from tackle to linebacker to end requires a series of different techniques, and that's something he's understood and worked on from the start. In previous years training with Gaines, Houston picked the brains of offensive tackles Ryan Clady and Donald Penn, and worked out with MMA trainer Jay Glazer. This spring and summer, he branched out.

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    Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
    At 275 pounds in 2013, Houston was fast enough to catch Chris Johnson.

    "They've changed a lot, because I dedicated my year to working on more skill-specific stuff as a defensive end," Houston said of his workouts. "So, I worked with [pass-rush consultant] Chuck Smith. I worked with [martial arts coach] Joe Kim. I worked withTamba Hali -- really, anybody I could work with. I sat down with Lincoln Kennedy and talked with him -- anyway I could get better this year. My skill set as a pass rusher, I took that time to make the effort. This year, I dedicated a lot of my year to football like most years, but specifically toward pass rushing."

    Working with Hali, the Chiefs' sackmaster, proved to be especially beneficial. Houston has learned the ins and outs of hand moves and counters through his time in the league, but if you want to get to Hali's level, there's always more to learn.

    "Working with Tamba has been one of my most fun experiences this offseason. He's a really funny guy -- really nice. He's family-oriented -- he and his girlfriend and his daughter will work out with me and my wife. And he really broke down certain things to me about the pass rush, and helped me develop that sense of how to go about attacking a guy [an offensive lineman] or breaking a guy down, and things like that. What's the mindset behind every pass-rush move, and every look. What you're trying to accomplish; why certain things make sense and others don't. It was just really helpful to me."

    Of course, none of this would matter if Houston wasn't dedicated, and as Gaines says, that's something that's never changed. From relative no-name status before the draft all those years ago to his current megabucks contract, Houston has stayed on track -- and he's always looking to be better.

    "There have been maybe five guys in the 300-plus guys I've trained for the combine who haven't changed from the day I met them until now," Gaines told me. "Lamarr Houston just signed for $35 million, and he says, 'Travelle, you're going to be so proud of me -- I did it big!' I said, 'What did you do?' He said, 'I bought a car!' I said, 'OK -- what did you get -- a Lamborghini? A Ferrari?' 'No -- a Jeep Cherokee! I got it painted!' And literally, as proud as a peacock about this $30,000 Cherokee he bought. And that's the kind of guy he is. But those guys are so few and far between, and that's why 80 percent of the guys in the NFL go broke."

    Not Lamarr Houston. Though he did admit a weakness for the cuisine at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in his new home city, he certainly knows when to say, "when." Now, he and the Bears will reap the benefits.
  2. WarLax

    WarLax Rookie

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    I cannot reiterate enough how much I love the attitude and culture that is being built here in Chicago by George, Phil, Marc and everyone else involved. Everything is certainly roses right now and we have seen positive pieces regarding Houston before, but this article just further exemplifies the type of individual that the Bears are bringing in. I especially liked this quote from Houston's trainer:

    I absolutely love this and I love this team. Anyway, it's Christmas in August today, football is back! Bear Down!
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    • Bear Down! Bear Down! x 2
  3. strockrocks

    strockrocks Veteran

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    I read somewhere awhile back a quote from Chris Long. He said that Lamarr Houston was the hardest working guy in the entire NFL and had tons of respect for him. Thought that was random. I can't wait to see him out there. And Allen...
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  4. Akuma2000

    Akuma2000 Veteran SuperFan

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    I believe this defense barring injury can be even more special this year than last year's squad (before the injuries started)., gonna be a great year this for DA BEARS and DA DEFENSE !!
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  5. Bearsinhouston

    Bearsinhouston Position Coach

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    We've got a ton of talent on this team, and the ingredient to bring it out and make it effective - good coaching. I have always said that coaches are SO important. We have a guy that can find talent (more often than not) in Emery, a guy that seems to be the real deal as far as offense goes, and at least some very good defensive coaches.

    Tucker is the question mark, but the guys around him have been shored up to the point I think he can't hurt us too much even if he sucks. If he turns out to be the next breat defensive mind, then with the guys around him we have a scary defensive coaching staff. I still have my questions about him but there is enough optimism that I'm not going to sweat it.

    We have some smart guys in Emery and Trestman. They did not take his performance lightly last year and he was almost let go. If he underperforms, he is gone and Pasc will step up. I think either way we win. He is good and stays or he sucks and we get Pasc. Trestman won't let this D fail with all the talent we have.
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  6. Akuma2000

    Akuma2000 Veteran SuperFan

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    Tucker was doing a pretty good job last year until the injuries tore the defense apart, that's why i'm really hoping the whole team stays healthy this year. This way we can better gage Tucker's coaching of the defense etc....
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It's nice that at least one writer got the weight thing correct even if he did screw up on where he's slotted to play. Guess he forgot about us signing Jared Allen to play RDE. :rolleyes:

    Ever since we signed him he's been listed at 300lbs on the Bears website even though Houston has said in every interview when asked about his weight that he was gonna be playing at around 275lbs. Some of these guys seem to take a lot of pride in hitting and maintaining some scientifically determined "ideal weight" and body fat percentage.

    We may have been shooting for Michael Bennett to begin with but I'm not sure we haven't done far better for ourselves with Houston and Allen as the starters and a guy like Willie Young who can spell both. I like this guy. He smiles a lot and seems genuinely pleased to be a Bears. Hard to figure why Oakland didn't try to keep him.

    Nice to hear how hard he's working at improving his pass rush techniques too. I think playing on that line with Allen and Ratliff and occasionally Sutton that he's gonna turn a lot of those past hits and pressures into sacks now. Great signing and we didn't need to break the bank to get him or Allen or Young for that matter.
  8. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    One of Tucker's biggest failures last year was not getting the younger players the coaching they needed to step up. Everything I read about his says he's big on that so I'm gonna let last year slide and chalk it up to poor or inexperienced teachers at the DL and LB coaching spots.

    With Pasqualoni and Herring onboard now that's no longer the case and according to his own players Tuckers overall schemes and playing calling were correct the majority of the time so maybe we plugged the gaps in coaching just as we have player personnel.

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