There was a time when Whitney Mercilus was drafted by the Houston Texans to provide a consistent pass rush off the edge but the former first round draft pick has not gotten off to the start he wanted this 2014 season.
Mercilus, since arriving in 2012, has appeared in all 32 regular season games (20 starts) and produced 13 sacks during that stretch. This third season is a
big one in terms of his development as a player and for the defense looking for a consistent pass rush off the edge. Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel has been
coaching him hard since the summer, but things are not lining up for Mercilus to this point.
Jadeveon Clowney has replaced Mercilus in the starting lineup while the Brooks Reed experiment was put on hold moving him back to outside linebacker to
start opposite of the rookie. Mercilus to this point in camp has looked uneasy with his role and what the new staff is asking him to do. Now newly signed
Quinten Groves and undrafted rookie Jason Ankrah are pushing for more snaps over Mercilus.
Mercilus played in 23 snaps in the last preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals with the majority of those defensive snaps coming against the 2nd and
3rd offenses. His play looked uninspired at times and more than anything he looked like he was overthinking what he needed to do on the field.
Mercilus explained what he needs to do to get back to his former self,
“Just being able to be consistent in my pass rush. Also playing the run game and setting the edge and things like that. Just not a whole lot of thinking,
The outside linebacker has been working after every practice trying to get his motor going again, which was one of his best attributes coming out of
Illinois. He stays later than most of his counterparts talking to Vrabel to get some extra pointers, then he works on his pass rush on the side fields
until the field is cleared of teammates and media.
His work ethic is there, now he is working to get his mind right to find a way to get back on the field for the Texans to contribute once again.
Mercilus was straight forward with his next step,
“Keep on working hard and become more consistent, that’s it.”