HOUSTON (CBS Houston)Wade Phillips has a lot to be excited about in training camp this year.  With the recent signing of All-Pro safety Ed Reed, the Texans defensive coordinator has high expectations for the upcoming season.

“The team changes every year. I’m excited about having Ed Reed back there though.  He just makes so many plays and helps you make so many plays.  The corners can now play differently.  They’ve got that security blanket in the middle all the time that helps them be able to jump outside routes.”

Connor Barwin’s departure to the Eagles means  more playing time for last year’s first-round draft pick, Whitney Mercilus.

“Mercilus didn’t play a whole lot last year, although he’s very productive,” Phillips added, referring to the outside linebacker’s role last season.

Mercilus had limited snaps behind Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed but did contribute on special teams. With Barwin gone, Mercilus likely will see more playing time for the Texans defense.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him play all the time because he really came on during the year a lot like J.J. did,” Phillips said about Mercilus. “I thought he really played well toward the end of the season for us.”

During his rookie season, Watt had 5.5 sacks.  Mercilus finished his rookie year with six sacks.

Phillips is projecting an upswing in Whitney’s sophomore season. “Mercilus in his second year, that’s certainly a key year.  We saw what J.J. did in his second year.”  High expectations, indeed.