Mercilus ties rookie sack record
Whitney Mercilus was the college football leader in sacks last season. Now he leads everyone in a Texans uniform that is considered human, which obviously excludes J.J. Watt. Mercilus is second on the team with six this season, which ties the Texans single season rookie record.
“Things tend to happen to him. I talk about J.J. always finding a way to the quarterback or the ball coming to him," Gary Kubiak said. "Whitney is a lot like that. He’s out there playing, working and quarterback scrambles, he’s coming which way. There is something to that. Guys just have a knack for plays happening for them. That happened for him in college. It’s showing up for us, too.
It shows what kind of nose for the football Mercilus has because of the numbers he's put up in the limited time he's been on the field. Mercilus is one sack ahead of Antonio Smith but has played 309 fewer snaps than Smith this season.
“Yeah, I mean that shows his ability," Wade Phillips said. "Not all of his sacks are plain beat-the-guy-around-the-corner, DE Cameron Wake, the way he’s playing, or a guy like that. It shows that he’s got a lot of spirit. He wants to work hard. He’s going to try to keep coming on every play. That’s what you learn to do because that’s part of being active now. We ran a blitz, and maybe we should have run that blitz more because nobody picked him up. We got Tom Brady on that one. He’s coming along well.”
Mercilus has started the last two games after sliding into the starting lineup after Brooks Reed went down with a groin injury. Connor Barwin moved over to strong side linebacker in place of Reed and Mercilus has taken over the weak side in place of Barwin. In his two games as a starter Mercilus has three sacks and a fumble recovery.
“It’s awesome," Mercilus said. "It just shows that I’m allowing my body to take over and use my athleticism to go in there, make plays, make things happen like the coaches expect me to do. That’s why they picked me. There is still plenty of football left to play and all that so I’ll just continue doing the same thing I’m doing.”
“I think he’s progressing," Kubiak said. A young player, that the thing about him, he tends to make plays. The sacks he has, he’s pretty good for a rookie. He’s made some plays on special teams for us also. He made a nice one the other night, but he’s progressing. He got thrown in the fire, big-time. His progress has a lot to do with how we’re going to go here toward the end of this thing, some of our young players. I like what we’ve seen. I like his work habits. I think he’s very sharp in the meeting room. He handles himself very good.”