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Former Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

Mercilus had a huge day against the Chicago Bears’ offensive line.

Whitney Mercilus may not be the most popular player in the NFL, but the former Fighting Illini standout is quickly becoming one of the most productive pass rushers in the league. However the Houston linebacker did receive some more national attention on Wednesday by earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors! Mercilus recorded 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans' 23-14 victory over the [terrible] Chicago Bears.

Mercilus was also named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in January after tallying 17 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 3 tackles-for-loss over a stretch of five games. Additionally, Mercilus currently has the longest active streak of multi-sack games in the NFL (3, including 2016 playoffs).

So, yeah, I bet the Bears really regret passing on Mercilus in the 2012 NFL Draft right about now. His fantastic name alone would’ve been worth more than eventual selection Shea McClellin.

And if for some reason you’re still looking for a NFL rooting interest (looking at you, St. Louis residents), The Houston Texans are a great option for Illinois fans. Including Mercilus, the franchise is starting three former Fighting Illini — two of which are amongst the best at their positions.

Interested to see how other Fighting Illini performed at the professional level on Sunday? Check out our Week 1 NFL Recap right here.