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Breakfast: Whitney Mercilus and his transformation

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When Bill O'Brien and his staff arrived in 2014, Whitney Mercilus had not had his breakout season yet.

That would come in 2015, according to Mercilus, when he had his first double-digit sack season (12) and career-high tackles for loss (14).

"We were pretty tough on Whitney when we first came here because we saw a lot of potential with the guy," O'Brien said. "He took the hard coaching, he took it to heart, and now he's obviously one of our best players. He affects the game, he's a disruptive guy, he's a guy that we move around quite a bit, and he's done a nice job for us."

The fifth-year outside linebacker recalls it similarly. The coaches were hard on him, but he always had a top-notch work ethic, arriving at 6 a.m., working out, watching tape, and working on his technique.

"Our coaching staff is real hard," Mercilus said. "They expect nothing but the best and they want to draw the best out of each player. I'm always on a routine. I always do everything the same. Anytime anybody challenges me, I always look forward to that challenge so that I can prove to them and my peers that I'm great at what I do."

It worked.

Mercilus says his understanding of the game and concepts of offensive schemes reached another level. He also made small changes to give him a competitive advantage, one of which included improving his diet.

"My body is running at a higher rate, you would say, kind of like a Ferrari," Mercilus said. "You've got to fuel. You are what you eat, I think. Just eating healthy, I've been able to play a lot faster and go longer."

This season, Mercilus became the first player in franchise history to have multiple sacks in two consecutive playoff contests. In Saturday's Wild Card game against Oakland, Mercilus recorded two sacks, as well as two quarterback hits, three TFLs, and seven tackles. He is now tied with J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed for the most career sacks (5.0) in the Texans postseason history.

The Texans will travel to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots for the AFC Divisional game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

Check out the best photos of the Houston Texans as they take on the Raiders at NRG Stadium.

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