DL Mercilus signs with Texans

The Houston Texans signed first-round pick Whitney Mercilus to a

four-year deal on Thursday.

Mercilus was the 26th overall pick in this year’s draft out of

Illinois.

”It’s great to get it off my mind and just concentrate straight

on football and everything,” he said. ”Just more concentrating

instead of having a monkey on my back, no doubt and just getting in

front of the fans.”

The 6-foot-4, 254-pound player was a defensive end in a 4-3

scheme at Illinois but has moved to outside linebacker in the 3-4

alignment the Texans use. He’s happy with the progress he made in

the practices leading up to this week’s mini-camp, which wrapped up

Thursday.

”I’ve grown up a lot, pretty fast, too,” Mercilus said. ”They

shot it straight at us really fast, a hundred miles per hour and

it’s a lot of information to take in. But it was our time for these

three days of the mini-camp to actually grow up and graduate and

basically go out here and execute what they call.”

He started just one season in college, but was the nation’s

leader in sacks with 16 and forced fumbles with eight. He earned

Big Ten first-team honors and the Ted Hendricks Award as the top

defensive end in the nation.

The Texans did not release financial terms of the deal.

Houston has two remaining unsigned draft picks in guard Brandon

Brooks and receiver DeVier Posey, who were both chosen in the third

round.

Also on Thursday, Houston signed free agents Keith Browner and

Moran Norris, who spent the last three days at mini-camp trying out

for the team. Browner, a defensive end and linebacker, played in 38

games in his last three seasons at California.

Norris, a 12-year veteran fullback, played for the Texans from

2002-05 before spending 2006 and 2007 with the 49ers. He spent the

2008 season with the Lions before returning to San Francisco for

the last three years.