Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said Mercilus has received fewer opportunities because he's part of a playing rotation, which has contributed to his slow start to the season, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Mercilus, who didn't record a tackle in 50 snaps (80.6%) last week, has just nine tackles overall -- including one for a loss -- with three quarterback hits and no sacks. "Whitney understands what I'm trying to get done, and why he's not in there quite as much and he goes in there and he performs when he's in there," said Crennel. "There's some value in that as well. I know everybody says, he should have 12 sacks and all that good stuff, but if he does his job and helps the team win, then we'll all be satisfied." It sounds like Crennel is providing cover for the six-year veteran, who had 37.5 sacks over his first five seasons, as Mercilus has played more than 80 percent of the defensive snaps. The production dropoff may be the result of health; Merciuls may not be fully over last year's pectoral injury and a hamstring injury that kept him out all preseason.

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