As a high school football player in Colorado, Lamarr Houston did everything.
He was a first-team all-conference fullback and linebacker, was a two-time all-Colorado selection and rarely came off the field. On offense, he rushed for 3,325 yards and 49 TDs in his prep career and on defense he had more than 100 tackles in his junior and senior seasons.
He had speed, power and a revved-up motor.
So, it’s no wonder the former Colorado prep star and standout defensive lineman at the University of Texas is starting to make his presence felt on the Oakland Raiders.
Houston was all over the field last week in Oakland’s 26-23 overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, with eight tackles, a sack of Chad Henne that stopped a Jags drive and a tackle on receiver Cecil Shorts III in OT that forced a fumble that Oakland recovered and converted into the game-winning field goal.
It was perhaps the best all-around game of Houston’s three-year NFL career, and gave fans a glimpse at what the 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive end is bringing to the Raiders’ suddenly revitalized defense.
Houston, drafted in the second round out of Texas in 2010, had 39 tackles and five sacks in his rookie season, then had 51 tackles (but just one sack) in 2011. In six games in 2012, Houston already has 26 tackles. His sack of Henne was his first this year.
“When you look at Lamarr, his game, he’s a little fireball out there,” Raiders veteran defensive tackle Richard Seymour told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He plays the game the way the game is supposed to be played. He’s passionate about what he does. He can run around. He can rush inside and still bring some pressure from the outside. He’s a good run defender. He really does everything well.”
And, adds Seymour, Houston’s attitude is infectious.
“He’s a guy that has some juice on Sunday in terms of being a motivational guy in the locker room,” he said. “He brings a lot to the team and obviously had a big day (Sunday).”
Houston’s play to strip Shorts of the ball in overtime was exactly what Raiders defensive linemen need to do for the Raiders to be successful, Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and head coach Dennis Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group.
“He rushed the passer, saw the ball thrown, turn and ran,” said Allen. “Those are opportunities for us to take the ball away when they throw the short passes with our guys getting out of the stack and making hits on wide receivers and getting the ball out.”
Houston learned of being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week during a defensive team meeting Wednesday, and called it “an honor.”
Allen said Houston has continued to improve this season and – along with rookie linebacker Miles Burris, a better pass rush and better secondary play – has helped the Raiders defense play much better against Jacksonville and Atlanta after the team’s bye week.
“He’s a guy that has continued to get better, that’s really bought into the effort part about playing defense,” Allen told McDonald.