Whitney Mercilus enjoying role as a starter

After missing all of preseason and most of training camp with a hamstring injury, Whitney Mercilus is quickly making up for lost time. In the season opener, Mercilus had a career-high seven tackles at San Diego. After playing nine quarters of football in less than one week, the second-year linebacker has eased into his new role.

"It's new for me because I was ready last year, but I wasn't used as much as a starter," Mercilus said Tuesday. "Now I'm a starter and playing a lot more football. It's taxing on the body but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Mercilus became a starter when Connor Barwin signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency this past offseason. The 2012 NFL first-round draft pick tied the Texans rookie record for sacks in a season with six last year.

In 2013 Mercilus has recorded 13 tackles and one sack in his two starts. When asked how he was feeling after Sunday's 30-24 overtime win against the Titans at Reliant Stadium, Mercilus replied with a big smile.

"Not too bad," he said. "Banged up, bruised a little bit. That's the usual thing with football."

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