With starting outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (knee) on injured reserve, Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee were on the field last week more than usual for the short-handed defense. Both will be counted on again this week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Acho played 82 percent of the snaps (64) and McPhee played 58 percent (45 snaps) last week. Acho had 4 tackles, 2 quarterback hits and drew 2 holding penalties. McPhee had 2 tackles, while exceeding his normal “pitch count,” because of surgical knees.
“Sam played a really high amount percentage-wise,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Pernell played more percentage-wise than he had been playing. We’re down, so guys are going to have to play more.
“I thought Sam played very well in that game, and Pernell is fighting his butt off to do anything and everything he can out there.”
On Wednesday the Bears added some depth at outside linebacker, when they were awarded free agent Lamarr Houston on waivers. He was a Bear from 2014-16. After signing a $35 million, five-year deal in free agency with the Bears, Houston played in just 26 games, missing 22 when he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in 2014 and a torn ACL in his left knee in ’16.
He had a career-best 8 sacks in 2015, the only year he was healthy for all 16 games as a Bear. Houston played in five games this year for the Houston Texans and had 6 tackles and 1 sack.
“It’s nice that there was a guy available that had been here,” Fangio said. “(Thursday) was the first practice with him. But hopefully he’ll be back into it.”
Fangio was unsure how much help Houston could provide Sunday against the 49ers, but the 30-year-old veteran, who has 26½ career sacks, said he feels ready.
“Out there at practice it felt like I had never left,” Houston said. “So hopefully I’ll just get back into the swing of things.”
Ironically, Houston’s first ACL tear occurred as he was celebrating his only sack of the season, and it came against Jimmy Garoppolo, who was mopping up for Tom Brady in the New England Patriots’ 51-23 rout of the Bears. Garoppolo gets his first start as the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Sunday against the Bears.
Another less-serious knee injury during the final preseason game this year led the Bears to release Houston with an injury settlement.
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