Former Houston Texans DE Whitney Mercilus says he has 'new life' with Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Whitney Mercilus heard what Randall Cobb said this summer after Cobb got traded from the Houston Texans to the Green Bay Packers.

He didn't even let the full question come out Thursday before he started laughing heartily.

Mercilus didn't quite have the same feeling as Cobb, who upon his arrival in Green Bay said: "It's funny, my teammates said you act like you just got out of prison, and I said, well, you know ... I'm very, very excited to be here."

While the veteran pass-rusher had nothing bad to say about his time with the Texans, which was much longer than Cobb's, he shared the same sentiment about coming to Green Bay just two days after he was released. In fact, had he not been released, he said he likely would have asked his agent to seek his release or a trade.

Despite a reduced role this season, the 31-year-old had 3 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss, 3 quarterback hits and 12 tackles in six games for the Texans. His 57 sacks in 10 seasons for the Texans ranks second in franchise history behind J.J. Watt.

Mercilus, picked by the Texans at No. 26 in the 2012 NFL draft, said he chose to sign with the Packers over several teams, including offers from the Chiefs and Steelers. And he said he did call Cobb, among others, before he made his decision.

"Not each franchise is equal in regards to everybody loves to do their different thing," Mercilus said. "With that being said, I'm just grateful to be here, been accepted with open arms, love it. The energy, it's amazing. Honestly it's like, I don't know, it just pumps new life [into you] because I've only see the same four walls for years and to see something different is pretty cool."

Going from a 1-5 team in a rebuild mode to a 5-1 team that's a Super Bowl contender in the NFC helps.

"That definitely contributes to it," he said. "But also the mentality as far as from top down. I'm talking about tippity-top all the way down. Everybody's on the same page. ... When you've got the mentality like that, that you just know you're being appreciated and they're doing everything to invest in you and you want to invest back into that. To experience something like that is awesome."

In Green Bay, Mercilus joined a defense that has been decimated with injuries at outside linebacker. Za'Darius Smith is on injured reserve after back surgery and isn't certain to play again this season. Preston Smith sustained an oblique injury Sunday against the Bears and hasn't practiced this week. The Packers already lost Randy Ramsey (ankle) and Chauncey Rivers (knee) to season-ending injuries.

Even if Mercilus doesn't play Sunday against Washington, it appears he'll get a chance to play a significant role soon.

"I've been on teams that have gone against him, and he's always been a problem to play against," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "So, I think we're pretty fortunate to get a guy of his caliber in at this time of the season."