Focused, even at an early age. That's a good word to describe Raiders rookie Lamarr Houston, and it might help explain to his teammates why the defensive end was unable to let up at the team's minicamp and workouts this summer.
Running back Rock Cartwright was slammed and sent to the ground by Houston on one play, and loudly reminded him, "We ain't got no (expletive) pads on, man!"
The rookie also drew the ire of offensive tackle Langston Walker, until Walker shoved Houston to the ground and deposited his 360 pounds on top of him after one play.
One might call it a nasty streak that the mild-mannered Houston unleashes on the field, but there's nothing malicious about pushing yourself to be the best. All the time.
"He's relentless," said Oakland coach Tom Cable, whose team starts training-camp practices Thursday in Napa. "Every play, he's a pain in the rear for the guy he's going against, and that's important."
Houston, a second-round pick from Texas, has spent the last couple of weeks working with a personal trainer and watching videotape of retired New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.
"I am going to work and work and work," Houston said. "There is a great tradition with the Raiders, a winning tradition, and I am going to do all I can to help turn things back around in that direction."
At the University of Texas, he started 21 games at defensive tackle and 12 at end, and he held rushers to 24 yards on 60 run plays directed at him. He also killed eight scoring drives with one fourth-down and seven third-down stops.
Houston has power and speed, as evidenced by his 4.85 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. He was moved back from defensive tackle to end after the Raiders drafted him. And they could move him up and down the line to give opponents different looks.
"I just want to win; I don't care where I play," Houston said. "They could put me in the defensive backfield if we won."
If Houston and fellow rookie Rolando McClain can make a big impact on Oakland's defense, the Raiders might finally turn into a respectable team again. For now, the Raiders are at 25 in our rankings. They aren't worth drafting, but might be worth acquiring during the season if they show improvement and have a favorable matchup.