Whitney Mercilus Back at Practice for Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers signed veteran edge rusher Whitney Mercilus in late October after he was released by Houston, where he had spent his entire career.

Admittedly, Mercilus wasn’t the same player that he once was at this point in his career, and he was actually PFF’s lowest graded edge rusher during the 2020 season.

But with the Packers and in a specific rotational role where he was primarily used on third downs or in obvious passing situations, Mercilus would find some success—also, lining up along side of Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, and Preston Smith is helpful as well.

According to PFF ($$), Mercilus would tally 10 pressure and a sack in his 3-plus games with the Green Bay Packers. From Weeks 7 through 9, Mercilus would rank 32nd out of 105 eligible edge rushers in PFF’s pass-rush productivity metric—which measures a pass-rushers efficiency when it comes to getting after the quarterback.

Unfortunately, in Green Bay’s game against Seattle, Mercilus would suffer a biceps tear and he was placed on IR, presumably ending his season.

But not so fast, as Lee Corso would say, Mercilus was back at Green Bay Packers practice on Thursday.

Mercilus’ return to the practice field opens up the Packers’ three-week window to activate him off IR and the opportunity to add him back to the 53-man roster. If they do not, he will revert back to IR and his season will be over.

While at times this season the depth of the edge rusher position has been a concern, Green Bay could be getting two big boosts at that position with the potential return of Mercilus as well as Za’Darius Smith—which would mean that the Packers wouldn’t have to rely heavily on Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin, or La’Darius Hamilton, something they’ve had to do somewhat often this season.

Yet despite the injuries, reliance on inexperienced players, and overall ups and downs of the defense, in terms of pressures generated, this Packers pass-rush has still been one of the most productive In football this season, led by Gary and Smith, who both rank in the top-10 individually among edge rushers along with Kenny Clark, who posted 64 pressures this season, the second-most of his career.

When it comes to Mercilus and his potential return, I would still say expectations should be tempered—we have no idea where he’s at in the recovery process. With that said, the fact that he’s back on the practice field is certainly a good sign.