Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus has missed about 2 weeks or workouts with a hamstring injury, as well as the team's 1st 2 exhibition contests. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the team doesn't expect Mercilus to appear in the final 2 games either but does expect him to return for the regular-season opener. Over 6 seasons, Mercilus has only topped 7.5 sacks once -- when he delivered 12 in 2015. If the defense stays healthy, Mercilus will find himself in a good situation for sack upside. We'll keep an eye on the hamstring.

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Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Sunday night's loss to the Chiefs. He will miss the rest of the season. Ufomba Kamalu sits behind Mercilus on the depth chart. Losing Mercilus and DE J.J. Watt in the same game deals a big blow to the pass rush and Houston's team-D outlook in fantasy.

Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus missed the team's spring workouts with a hamstring injury, but he told the Houston Chronicle this week that he expects to be ready for the start of training camp. Mercilus finished last season by earning AFC defensive player of the month honors for December and racked up a career-high 12 sacks. That beat his previous high by 5. Mercilus retains double-digit sack potential in 1 of the league's better defenses, especially with J.J. Watt commanding attention and former #1 pick Jadeveon Clowney seemingly working toward greater impact. Keep Mercilus in mind as a potential spot-start value late in your IDP draft.

Texans LB Whitney Mercilus returned to practice Friday for the 1st time since hurting a hamstring on July 29.  He still appears on track to open the season as a starter on the outside, though.  “The thing I’m concerned about obviously is some guys that we’re counting on huge have missed time,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “It goes back to (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus). Whitney is back to work today. Worked with the team, looks great. But the fact is he hasn’t had a preseason.”  The phrase "counting on huge" is key there.  And that's why Mercilus looks like an intriguing late-round flier in IDP leagues that favor sack scoring.  A healthy Mercilus looks like a pretty good bet for double-digit sacks.

NFL.com's Around The League blog named Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus 25th on its list of players ready to "make the leap" in 2013.  GM Rick Smith told the team website back in February: "He adds explosiveness, he adds pass rush, he adds speed to our defense and I'm excited to see him.  That jump from year one to year two as I talk about very often, has to be exponential."  Mercilus takes over for Connor Barwin, who moved on to Philly in free agency.  He showed flashes in sparse playing time last year, registering 6 sacks while starting only 4 games.  Before that, he led the nation with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles at Illinois.  "Exponential" growth potential from him seems exciting.  He'll be a late sleeper in 2013 IDP leagues that reward sacks.

The best immediate pass-rush fit from this draft? We'll take Whitney Mercilus in Houston. The only real question on the former Illinois DE seems to be whether he's a 1-year wonder. Well, that's 1 more year than Jason Pierre-Paul posted in college. Obviously, nobody else's road proves or disproves Mercilus' worth. If there's one thing DC Wade Phillips knows, though, it's pass rushing. Mercilus led the nation in sacks and forced fumbles and ranked 2nd in tackles for loss during a wildly productive junior year in 2011. The Texans like the pass-rushing ability of OLB Connor Barwin, but Mercilus should be an improvement on 2011 2nd-rounder Brooks Reed in that area. If he can get enough snaps, Mercilus should be a sack factor right away. He probably won't be draftable right away in most redraft leagues, but he looks like a 10+ sack threat whenever the playing time is there.

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