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Mercilus earning more first-team reps in Houston

Houston Texans 1st-round pick Whitney Mercilus is currently listed as the backup weak-side linebacker, but after an impressive preseason debut and strong showings in practice, he’s pushing for a starting job already. “We’ll play him more and more with the first group to see how he does,” said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Mercilus is primarily battling veteran Connor Barwin, but could also take some playing time away from Brooks Reed. Regardless where the playing time comes from, the Texans are in an excellent position with three effective pass rushers who they believe are starter-caliber players. That type of depth can be invaluable over the long haul of the season, and is one of the reasons the Texans should be viewed as serious Super Bowl contenders.

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