Lamarr Houston's first season with the Bears in 2014 ended in pain and disappointment when he tore his ACL after recording just one sack in the first eight games.
"For me to go through something like that was just a testament to my mental toughness and my ability to overcome and conquer," Houston said during a recent segment of Bears Confidential on ChicagoBears.com.
Houston rebounded in 2015, switching from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Bears' new 3-4 scheme and leading the team with a career-high eight sacks. For that performance, ChicagoBears.com has named him the Bears' Comeback Player of the Year.
Houston saw little playing time early in the season. But after Jared Allen was traded to the Carolina Panthers and Pernell McPhee suffered a knee injury, Houston took advantage of expanded reps.
After playing only four snaps in a loss to the Vikings, he compiled 28 tackles, five sacks and six tackles-for-loss during a six-game stretch from Nov. 9-Dec. 13.
The hot streak began in a Monday night win over the Chargers when Houston sacked Philip Rivers on back-to-back snaps on San Diego's final drive to help ice a 22-19 victory.
Down by three points, the Chargers had reached the Chicago 46 at the two-minute warning. That's when Houston dropped Rivers for an eight-yard loss. He jumped offside before the next play, giving San Diego five yards back. But then Houston sacked Rivers again for a 10-yard loss, leading to third-and-23. Rivers followed with two incomplete passes and the Bears took over on downs with 1:09 remaining.
Houston's seven sacks over the final nine weeks of the season were tied for sixth most in the NFL. He helped the Bears record 20 sacks in their last seven games, tied for seventh in the league.
Before joining the Bears, Houston spent his first four seasons with the Raiders after being selected by Oakland in the second round of the 2010 draft out of Texas. He appeared in all 64 games with 60 starts with the Raiders, recording 226 tackles, 16 sacks, one interception, five passes defensed, 37 tackles-for-loss, four forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
The 28-year-old has now led his team in sacks three of the past four seasons. With the Raiders, he tied for the lead with four sacks in 2012 before leading them with six in 2013.