Texans first-rounder Mercilus starting to flash

Posted Oct. 21, 2012 @ 5:47 p.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

It’s a season of firsts for the Houston Texans.

At 6-1, they’re off to the best start in franchise history, in their first-ever defense of a division crown.

Their first-round draft pick, OLB Whitney Mercilus finally got in on the fun in Week Seven.

Mercilus, who saw his first significant playing time late in the blowout loss to the Packers in Week Six, earning praise from the coaching staff for his strong effort, was a major contributor in Houston’s thoroughly dominating 43-13 undressing of the Ravens, their first-ever victory over Baltimore.

He made the most of his opportunities subbing for Brooks Reed, spearheading Houston’s defensive takeover early in the first quarter with a sack and forced fumble on Ravens QB Joe Flacco, one play before the Texans got into the scoring act with a Connor Barwin safety.

Mercilus, who received more chances because Reed and Barwin had produced minimally as pass rushers up until this game, also tipped a pass late in the first half that led to a Glover Quin interception, and narrowly missed out on another sack one series earlier.

Word is Mercilus’ coming out party, though coinciding with Barwin’s best game of the season, is likely to force defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ hand in finding more ways to get the energetic pass rusher on the field.