Bears

Bears release outside linebacker Lamarr Houston

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USA TODAY

Bears release outside linebacker Lamarr Houston

Lamarr Houston's roller coaster with the Bears is over.

The outside linebacker, who former general manager Phil Emery inked to a five-year, $35 million in 2014, was released with an injury settlement on Wednesday.

Houston's ride in Chicago had many ups and downs. His first season with the team ended in embarrassing fashion when he tore his ACL while celebrating a meaningless sack in a blowout loss. He had a resurgence the next season, however, playing in all 16 games and leading the team with eight sacks.  

Knee problems quickly derailed any progress made, as the seven-year veteran was lost in the second game of last season with another torn ACL. His 2017 campaign lasted four preseason games. He was placed on injured reserve after suffering another knee injury in the preseason finale.

Houston said his goodbyes to the city and organization via Fox Sports, telling fans "it was an honor to play for you guys." 

He also posted on his Instagram account: 

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Prediction szn is upon us all. 

It's about now -- Week 3 of the preseason for most teams -- when the shine of exhibition football starts to wear off. With Week 1 in sight, media outlets are starting to unveil their season predictions. Sheild your eyes, Bears fans.

Sports Illustrated: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

"The offensive line took a big hit losing guard Josh Sitton and the defense, while improved with Roquan Smith at linebacker, still needs to find a pass rush. It may take one more year for this group to gel."

CBS Sports: 4-12 (oof), Last in the NFC North

Yahoo Sports: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

ESPN: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"The NFL did the Bears no favors with early games against Green Bay and Seattle, but the schedule lightens up considerably beginning in Week 3."

Bleacher Report: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"Chicago is well-positioned to rapidly improve even though its home schedule is difficult, with the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Jets and Buccaneers coming to town beyond its regular rivalries." 

Pro Football Focus: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"Among optimistic plays on win totals, the Bears OVER 6.5 wins (even at -130) offers the best value, especially given the aforementioned environment surrounding second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky."

Newsday: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that the Bears are my breakout team for the 2018 season. They had such a great offseason that they can be this year’s 2017 Rams."

USA Today: 7-9, 3rd in NFC North

"Let's not expect them to fully replicate the Rams' model of success in 2017. But if Mitchell Trubisky is the real deal, he and new coach Matt Nagy should finally get this proud franchise pointed in a direction that could reasonably mean playoffs ... in 2019."

For The Win: 6-10, 3rd in the NFC North

Postcard from Camp: Adam Shaheen's ankle injury puts a halt on the solid growth he's made this preseason

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Postcard from Camp: Adam Shaheen's ankle injury puts a halt on the solid growth he's made this preseason

Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn’t sure on Monday if Adam Shaheen’s right ankle sprain would keep him from playing Week 1 in Green Bay. If it does, though, it would represent the fourth consecutive regular season game the second-year tight end would miss dating back to last year. 

In a coincidental connection, too, it would mark the second straight year Shaheen wouldn’t be able to immediately build off a strong showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. Last December, Shaheen caught four of five targets for 44 yards with a touchdown in the Bears’ 33-7 win in Cincinnati; he caught all three of his targets for 53 yards against the Bengals in Aug. 9’s preseason game. 

Shaheen suffered a chest injury during that Bengals game last December and was inactive for the Bears’ final three games of the season. Coincidences aside, Shaheen’s ankle injury represents another speed bump in his developmental path, depending on the severity of it. 

But the good news, perhaps, is that Shaheen has made strides this training camp and preseason. We’ll look at one specific play against the Bengals that stands out below. 

To set it up: Earlier this month, Shaheen talked about how he’s improved at reading coverages and how that’s helped him improve as a route runner. That’s something that has come with experience as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“It’s a big part of this offense as a receiver, recognize the coverage and where you need to be,” Shaheen said. “How you get there is everything.

“… There’s a little more not-so-much focus on, like, a perfect square cut. It’s more, like I said earlier, against this coverage you need to be in that hole at the right time. You might just be in that hole just pulling a defender another way to open up your teammate. That’s a big part.”

That growing savviness was on display in Cincinnati on Aug. 9. Specifically, this play:

Shaheen runs a drag over the middle on third-and-four but encounters linebacker Hardy Nickerson (red circle) standing in his way.

Instead of keeping strictly to the route and trying to run through or beneath Nickerson (yellow arrow), Shaheen faced up to the Bengals’ linebacker, did an inside-out juke move and goes to Nickerson's outside shoulder (blue arrow).

Shaheen is then able to use his strength and athleticism to gain leverage on Nickerson and work his way into the open field. 

The whole play took all of two seconds to develop, and by the time Chase Daniel releases the ball, Shaheen has a step on Nickerson. The result is not just a first down, but a 29-yard completion. 

“Some routes are locked in, and other ones we’ve got a little wiggle room to work,” Shaheen said. “Those ones are obviously very good to see a linebacker over there because you know you can really have an opportunity to get the ball and work him.”

Those little things will continue to grow Shaheen’s game with more experience. The potential is there for Shaheen to play a significant role in the Bears’ offense in 2018 — provided he’s healthy for the start of it.