Mercilus had two tackles and assisted on a sack in Sunday's 20-3 win over Jacksonville.
Mercilus finished off a down year on an up note. Coming off a 2017 season shortened to five games by a pectoral injury, Mercilus didn't play in the preseason due to a hamstring injury and was slow to make an impact when he returned for the regular season. Mercilus managed to play all 16 games, something coach Bill O'Brien values, and was in on 75 percent of the defensive snaps, down from the 86 percent he played during his last full season. He'll enter 2019 with one season left on a four-year deal.
Mercilus recorded five tackles (three solo) and 1.5 sacks across 47 defensive snaps in Monday's win over the Titans.
Mercilus has had a nose for the quarterback the past two weeks, recording 2.5 sacks during that span. He'll take on the Browns next, who have allowed 35 sacks this season, which is seventh-highest in the league.
Mercilus recorded three tackles (two solo), including one sack, in Sunday's win over the Redskins.
Mercilus has had a relatively disappointing season by his standards. Averaging just over two stops per game, he's on pace for the lowest season totals in tackles and sacks since his rookie year (save for his injury-shortened 2017 campaign). Looking ahead, he'll aim to carry over his strong play into Week 12 as the Texans take on Tennessee.
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.
These were Mercilus' first quarterback hits of the season. He missed all of preseason with a hamstring injury, but any rust should have worn off by now. While Mercilus' production has lagged, the silver lining is that the team's top two pass rushers, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, created havoc against the Colts. If both remain consistently productive, it could open more lanes to the quarterback for Mercilus.
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