If the way the offensive line played in 2011 was the biggest surprise of the season for the Oakland Raiders then the way the defensive line performed had to be the biggest disappointment. Touted as one of the most talented units in the league, the Oakland D-line was dreadful.
Part of that poor performing unit was second year starter Lamarr Houston.
Last offseason Houston was being talked up as a future All-Pro. His rookie season featured 15 starts in 16 games with 5 sacks and the promise of much more to come. 2011 came around and Houston wasn’t much of a factor. His second season was only filled with flashes of Houston’s talents.
He recorded his first career interception last season but only got to the QB once. Against the run, where all Raider D-lineman struggled, Houston maintained the status quo. For good measure he played in every game yet didn’t start in three contests.
Hopefully the new regime combined with Dennis Allen’s scheme will get the best out of Houston. His versatility is invaluable. His talent is real. His ability to improve is what remains to be seen.
One thing that we didn’t see much of from Houston in 2011 that was there on every snap of his rookie season was that trademark mean streak. Houston played with an attitude and swagger in his first year that wasn’t there every Sunday during his sophomore campaign.
After one lap around the league there obviously was a book on blocking Houston. Adjusting to the adjustments the opponents make is what being a pro is all about. Houston has proven himself as a pro. He’ll be around for the foreseeable future. How effective he’ll be is what remains to be seen. Go ahead and add Lamarr to the list of players out to prove something to Reggie McKenzie.