Whitney Mercilus picked up in Week 1 where he left off in 2015.
Following his two-sack performance in Sunday's 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears, Mercilus was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week by the NFL. The Texans starting outside linebacker has recorded 8.5 sacks in the last three games he has played and 17.0 sacks in the last 13 games.
What's changed for Mercilus?
"My thought process about the game, just understanding exactly what to look for and how to play a lot faster without thinking, that's what was one of my problems," Mercilus said Tuesday night on Texans Radio. "So I've been able to change that especially sitting down with (Linebackers) Coach (Mike) Vrabel in actually dissecting the game. Now you'll probably see me like 20 yards where the ball is at, because I know exactly where the ball is going now."
Mercilus began the 2015 season without a sack until Week 6 at Jacksonville where he sacked Blake Bortles twice. Gaining momentum, he finished the season being named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December 2015. Since that Week 6 performance, Mercilus leads the NFL with 14.0 sacks in 12 regular season contests.
"What they say is this game is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical," Mercilus said. "It's true. Everybody's talented, it's the National Football League, but how are you going to get the next edge on your opponent?
Mercilus, now in his fifth season, also recorded four tackles, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble against Chicago. He was part of a defense that limited the Bears to just 258 net yards of offense, the second-lowest total allowed by an AFC team in Week 1.
Check out the best photos throughout the Texans first regular season game vs. the Bears.