CINCINNATI –Lamarr Houston took a major step in his return from last year's season-ending knee injury in Saturday night's preseason loss to the Bengals.
The Bears outside linebacker recorded two sacks of quarterback A.J. McCarron in the second half, leading to two punts—one of which Ify Umodu blocked and returned for a touchdown.
"I thought we did a good job of causing pressure on the quarterback and [covering the receivers] so there was time to get back there," Houston said. "For me personally, I think I could do better. But I think that was a good start."
In his first season with the Bears last year, Houston missed the final eight games after tearing his ACL Oct. 26 in a loss to the Patriots in New England. Ten months later, the six-year veteran is back playing in NFL games.
"I didn't have any doubt [about returning]," Houston said. "But I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work to get back and I just have to thank God that He's blessed me to come back in such a short amount of time."
Stepping up: After rookie defensive tackle Eddie Goldman exited early in the second quarter with a concussion, replacement Will Sutton produced two big plays.
Sutton stopped running back Jeremy Hill for no gain on third-and-one from the Cincinnati 18, forcing a punt. On the Bengals' next possession, the second-year pro stuffed running back Giovani Bernard for no gain on second-and-three at the Cincinnati 36.
"Will's been very competitive all throughout camp," said coach John Fox. "I think he's had a good camp. We'll evaluate all the tape from tonight tomorrow, and we've got decisions to make as early as Monday or late tomorrow. But I think he's had a good camp."
Special effort: The Bears' only touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter when rookie Ify Umodu blocked Kevin Huber's punt and returned it eight yards.
"It was just a good call by the coach," Umodu said. "My coaches told me to go out there and block it, so I gave a good move off the line and I was able to get through pretty clean and I was able to get the block."
Scooping up the ball after a second bounce, Umodu raced into the end zone and celebrated his touchdown by pressing his hands together and resting one foot on the inside of his other leg. .
"It was a yoga Namaste [pose]," Umodu said. "I used to take some yoga classes in college [at Northern Arizona], so I thought I would represent a little bit."
Leno opens: Starting at right tackle, second-year pro Charles Leno Jr. Jr. had a tough second quarter, giving up a key sack to defensive end Carlos Dunlap and getting flagged for holding. Both miscues stalled Bears drives.
Asked about the team's situation at right tackle, Fox said "It's competitive. We gave Leno a good shot with the ones tonight. We'll evaluate it and make whatever decisions we need to that we deem best moving forward."
Rare talent: Tight end Martellus Bennett led the Bears in receiving with seven catches for 45 yards, including four receptions for 26 yards on the offense's only scoring drive.
"He's doing well," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "He's doing everything we ask him to do. He had a little bit of a late jump because he was gone for some of the OTAs. But I think he's done a great job of catching back up to speed, getting himself in shape and I think he enjoys the offense. He enjoys the multiple sets that we're putting him in.
"We're asking him to do a lot of different things because he's good. That's why he's a different 'Y' [tight end] with his ability to block, pass protect and run protect and his ability to get open in the secondary. There are very few guys like that that can do both things. I think he's enjoying everything that we're asking him to do right now."