Chicago Bears Twitter mailbag: What's the deal with Lamarr Houston?


Here is the first part of our Chicago Bears Twitter mailbag.

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I had the same initial reaction, Scott. The Bears touted Lamarr Houston's run-stopping ability when they signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract with $14.9 million guaranteed, a deal that now looks terrible for Chicago in hindsight. 3-4 defensive ends are required to stop the run, which Houston can do in theory. This projected move to OLB is further confusing because Houston isn’t a skilled pass-rusher. He had 16.0 total sacks in four seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders, and Houston’s lone sack celebration of 2014 ended his season in embarrassing fashion at New England. Outside linebackers must also drop back in coverage. Houston hasn’t shown the ability to do that either as far as I can tell. Maybe the idea of Houston at OLB is temporary because John Fox stated that he wants to watch Houston on the field before reaching a final conclusion. The problem is that Houston hasn’t received medical clearance to return from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, and is not expected to be ready for voluntary minicamp in a couple of weeks. To call this situation fluid is an understatement. The only certainty is that, wherever he lines up, Houston needs to produce. With a 2015 base salary of $5.95 million, the Bears cannot afford for Houston to have another subpar season.

Ka'Deem Carey had one memorable game in 2014 when he rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 4. But after that, he looked rather ordinary, finishing his rookie year with 36 rushing attempts for 158 yards and five receptions for 57 yards. To be fair, starting tailback Matt Forte played the overwhelming majority of the snaps, but outside of his effort against Green Bay, I’m having a difficult time remembering any of Carey’s highlights. Maybe Carey would flourish if given the starting role, but I can’t say for certain. What I do know is the 2015 running back draft class is deep. Given Fox’s running back by committee approach, the Bears need to seriously consider drafting another tailback, especially with Forte entering the final year of his contract. Carey should be forced to compete for a roster spot with Jacquizz Rodgers, Senorise Perry and the mystery running back to be named later.

Without the benefit of the Bears having any official on-field workouts until later in the offseason program, I think 6-foot-3, 240 pounds Christian Jones is a candidate at inside linebacker next to Mason Foster, or maybe Jon Bostic. Jones was a pleasant surprise last year playing in 16 games with five starts as an undrafted rookie out of Florida State. He ranked third on the defense in tackles (98) and recorded two sacks. We have not been permitted to speak to a single Bears assistant coach in the offseason, so I can’t share defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s evaluation of Jones in the new scheme. But based on last year, I feel Jones is headed on the right path.