The stretch between June's minicamp and the start of Texans' training camp on July 26th hasn't been one of lazy summer days and relaxation for Whitney Mercilus. The second-year outside linebacker laid low for a bit and then resumed his preparation for 2013.
"I took about three days rest or so and then I went straight out to Phoenix, Arizona," Mercilus said Tuesday at a visit to Houston Fire Department Station 51. "I trained at API, Athletes Performance."
In 2012 Mercilus finished with six sacks, which tied the franchise's rookie record. He started a trio of games in December, and is now tabbed as the starter at weakside outside linebacker for 2013. He has grand plans for this autumn.
"I was just thinking: this is my second year," Mercilus said. "I want it to be big. I want to be in the greatest shape that I can."
That meant Mercilus eschewed the relaxation in favor of toiling in the arid climate of the desert southwest. And he believes it will pay dividends.
"I trained out there for about three weeks, and I definitely improved in a lot of areas," Mercilus said. "Body-wise, I feel great. I feel faster. I feel like I'm fluid. I can't wait to start training camp and just show what I can prove."
Mercilus will slide into the starting spot vacated by Connor Barwin, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent in March. This camp will be another chance to hone his skills as he gets set for the sophomore season of his pro career. At times this July and August, he'll get a chance to duel with All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown during practice. Because of that, and because of the rigors that await him in the regular season as well, Mercilus has continued with hand work drills.
"I'm battling out there with the offensive tackles, offensive line and whatnot," Mercilus said. "I'm just trying to keep those hands off me, because I don't want to get snagged up. It's very important to the game. It's just repetition, repetition, repetition, so that you get your hands up and it just works then for you in the game and you create sacks."
Mercilus and the Texans begin training camp a week from Friday morning with a practice at 8 a.m. CT.