The Texans have had only three practices, and no contact or pads are allowed in organized team activities (OTAs), but head coach Gary Kubiak likes what he has seen out of first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus.
The 26th overall pick from Illinois, Mercilus has been lining up at outside linebacker with the Texans’ second unit.
“He’s looked very good,” Kubiak said on Thursday. “(Linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) catches guys up very quick. He’s a hell of a coach. (Mercilus) is moving around very good, and he’s going to be a great addition to our team.”
The Texans expect Mercilus to form a three-man rotation at outside linebacker with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed. Mercilus had an NCAA-best 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles last season at Illinois, his only season as a starter. Barwin led the Texans with 11.5 sacks in 2011, while Reed set a team rookie record with 6.0.
“He’s playing outside, obviously, so you’re coming most of the time,” Kubiak said of Mercilus. “Special teams-wise with (coordinator) Joe (Marciano), he’s getting a lot of work. Very bright young man. We knew that when we got him. Remember, (he had) just really one big, big year of college football, so watching him make this transition is pretty impressive.”
Mercilus also has made a good impression on his teammates.
“From what I have seen, he’s quick,” Pro Bowl defensive end and team captain Antonio Smith said. “Explosive. He got some power and he got some quickness, and he’s confident in himself. That’s always a good combination.”
Tags: Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Organized Team Activities, Reggie Herring, Wade Phillips, Whitney Mercilus
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