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Bears OLB Lamarr Houston: 'I'm better than I was before the surgery'

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After knee surgery, Lamarr Houston is working his way back into playing shape methodically. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Lamarr Houston declared himself completely recovered from the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in October 2014, but the sixth-year defender did not participate in team drills during Thursday’s practice.

“I’m actually a lot better than I was before the surgery,” Houston said. “I’ve done a lot of great rehab and have great physical therapists and doctors to get me back where I was before, if not better.

“We’re cleared. I’m 100 percent. I’m just taking it day to day and working my way back into playing football the proper way. Everything is good. Just taking it slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Houston, who ex-general manager Phil Emery signed to a five-year, $35 million contract, is one of several players forced to make a transition to a new position to fit in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. A starting defensive end for the Bears until he sustained his season-ending knee injury in Week 8 in New England, Houston is now classified as an outside linebacker, along with fellow pass-rushers Jared Allen and Willie Young.

“I believe I'm solid at linebacker, I'm kind of small to be a defensive end,” Houston said. "It's the same thing I was doing in Oakland. With the Raiders, we were more of a hybrid 3-4. It's similar, but a little different, but pretty similar for the outside linebacker, for what we were doing there and what we're doing here.”

Houston had four successful seasons in Oakland, where he registered 238 tackles, 16 sacks and 37 tackles for loss.

The Bears will need similar production from Houston if the team plans to see any return on its investment.