Bears welcome Houston and Mundy
LAKE FOREST — Tuesday night’s snowstorm didn’t rattle the Bears’ biggest signing of 2014 free agency, Lamarr Houston.
For his wife, on the other hand, it will take some getting used to.
“My wife’s from L.A. She’s never driven in the snow,” Houston joked with reporters when asked about his biggest concern in coming to Chicago.
Houston got his first taste of Chicago, and the local media at Halas Hall on Wednesday. A former Raider, Houston signed a five-year contract, and brings to the Bears what has been Phil Emery’s word of the offseason — versatility.
“I believe that Coach [Mel] Tucker is going to put me in the best position to make plays, whether that’s inside or out,” Houston said, “and I think it’s going to be a great fit for me, being able to do things that makes the defense more versatile than having to make too many changes.”
Wherever Houston does line up, though, don’t try to label him.
“This game is not about labels,” he said. “I don’t want to be labeled as [only] a pass rusher [or] a run stopper, just an athlete who plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Big hitter: Ryan Mundy had the pleasure of playing with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh for four years, got his chance to start in New York last year, and now will compete for the Bears’ open strong safety job.
“I feel like I’m coming in here to compete for a starting opportunity, and that’s all I can ask for,” Mundy said. “I don’t shy away from competition. I look forward to getting started with workouts and practices and everything like that.”
Phil Emery said Mundy is a player the Bears have evaluated for some time, using the adjectives of “tough, hard-nosed, physical, smart, instinctive” to describe Mundy, who considers himself a hard-hitting safety.
“I think I bring a physical nature to the defense. That’s been my M.O. for as long as I can remember, since I started playing football,” he said. “I’m not a guy who’s going to shy away from contact.”
Another new safety: The Bears signed former Packers safety M.D. Jennings to a one-year contract. Jennings started all 16 games as Green Bay’s free safety last season, but was ranked 67th by Pro Football Focus. Emery lauded Jennings’ versatility, range and coverage skills.
Bye-bye, Josh: Josh McCown signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers to be their starting quarterback. “We all want to congratulate Josh. He has been provided with a great opportunity to be a starter down there in Tampa. We’re very happy for him and very proud for you him,” Emery said. The Bears host the Buccaneers next season.
New numbers: Houston will wear No. 99, and Shea McClellin — now a linebacker — will switch to No. 50, which was James Anderson’s number. Mundy will wear No. 21, which was Major Wright’s number the past four seasons.