Whitney Mercilus: From pressure to performer

It's been a vastly different offseason for Whitney Mercilus, who just signed a long-term contract this week with the Texans.

Last year, the outside linebacker had to learn a new scheme with Romeo Crennel's defense. Meanwhile, the Texans drafted another outside linebacker, Jadeveon Clowney, with the No. 1 overall pick. Mercilus may have had the weight of the world on him, but he didn't let the pressure affect him.

He just put his head down and went to work.

"I was not worried about it at all, not at all," Mercilus said on Texans All Access Tuesday. "Just worried about understanding the defense, being able to prove to the coaches that I could play, show them that I was a reliable player. The deal will get done or not, is not really much of a concern for me. I just got to put that on the back end and just do what I can do, control what I can, and just go out there and play and perform."

He's had just one year in the system under head coach Bill O'Brien, but feels he knows it "inside and out." Now that his contract is situated, Whitney Mercilus is ready to begin the next phase of his NFL career.

"Coming up on my fourth year with the Texans, I'm just happy that we were able to get a deal done and everything when my agent negotiated with (General Manager) Rick (Smith), (Vice President of Football Administration) Chris Olsen, break middle ground, and keep me here for another four more years," Mercilus said.

Last season, Mercilus (6-4, 258) totaled 50 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 15 contests (13 starts). He also set or tied single-game career highs in tackles (nine) and tackles for loss (two).

Mercilus was originally selected by the Texans in the first round (26th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Illinois.

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