HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — It would be difficult to argue that the Texans linebackers have been a strength of the Houston defense in recent years.

With J.J. Watt roaming the line and veterans Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson locking down the secondary, the linebacking corps is understandably less notable, even with Jadeveon Clowney in the mix.

Whitney Mercilus, who broke out with 12 sacks last season, said he thinks that identity could be changing.

“It’s a pretty deep crew,” he said. “It’s the deepest I’ve seen since I’ve [been here], and it’s good to have our type of depth. We have guys who have their motors are running 110 percent and can run all day.”

Mercilus was including Clowney in that group of high-motor players. The former No. 1 overall draft pick earned his share of praise after a breakout effort in his 2016 preseason debut against the Saints.

RELATED: Clowney Dominant, Disruptive Vs. New Orleans

But Mercilus was also touting guys like John Simon, Brian Peters, Eric Lee and Benardrick McKinney, some of whom will shine just as much on special teams as they do on defense.

They will need to step up in a hurry if Watt misses regular-season action after a back injury or Christian Covington has a slow acclimation to the defensive end spot.

READ MORE: Covington Adjusting To New Spot On Defensive Line

“Great group of guys in there,” Mercilus said. “They’re tough, ready to go at all times and very talented as well and hard workers.”

“It shows out on the field. The linebackers are making plays out on the field, left and right.”


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