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OLB production a topic to watch in 2nd half of '15


Jadeveon Clowney has shown an explosiveness that can alter the way offenses protect the quarterback.

Whitney Mercilus terrorized Tennessee last Sunday with 3.5 sacks.

Getting them to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, in union with defensive end J.J. Watt, is one of many goals for the Texans in the second half of 2015.

"We have to find situationally where guys can help us each down and distance," linebackers coach Mike

Vrabel said. "If it is third down, we move some guys around. We just have to continue to find out who gives us the best chance to win on first down, second down and third down."

Clowney left Sunday's win over the Titans with a back injury, and Mercilus moved from the 'Jack' linebacker position to Clowney's 'Outside' linebacker spot. He responded with the best game of his career. Still, head coach Bill O'Brien emphasized that Mercilus didn't just shine because he was playing on the right side.

"I can remember exactly one play backed up down here when Tennessee was in their own end, he really made an unbelievable play," O'Brien said. "He lit up the tight end and tackled the back for about a three-yard loss and he was on the left side on that play. I'm not so sure about left and right.

O'Brien said he and the coaching staff will utilize the extra time with the bye week to improve the pass rush, in addition to other aspects of the team.


"We're going to really self-scout some of the things we're doing on both sides of the ball and continue to try to get the best 11 players on the field as much as we can," O'Brien said. "A lot of that has to do with injuries and things like that, how guys are doing, but yeah, we're going to continue to try to do that."

Mercilus, according to Vrabel, has been tireless in his desire to improve. The fourth-year pro has 5.5 sacks in 2015.

"He comes in everyday ready to work, willing to learn, get better," Vrabel said. "We try to coach him hard every day and try to make him better. He is willing, since the first day that this staff has gotten here, to try and learn those things and not just be the defensive end that he was in college."

The same is true for Clowney, Vrabel said, and the second-year defender keeps progressing.

"He is continuing to learn," Vrabel said. "He wants to be going forward and we need to keep him going forward the best that we can, but there are certain things that, he's got good instincts."

Clowney, Mercilus and the Texans players are off until Monday. They'll practice that day at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Their next game is a week from Monday night in Cincinnati.


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