Bills DE/OLB Shawne Merriman is hungry to play again.
According to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, Merriman "has gotten outstanding reviews in his comeback attempt from an Achilles injury, and looks like he will be able to help the Bills if he can stay healthy."
Good news out of Merriman’s camp has been hard to come by for a while now. The 27-year-old veteran has battled multiple injury problems since 2008, including troubles with his knee, foot, calf and Achilles tendon. As a result, many feel that the three-time Pro Bowler and former 2005 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year may have already reached the end of his career.
On the flip side, the Bills and their fans remain optimistic that if Merriman can get healthy—and stay healthy—he has a good chance of returning to form. And with the positive reports coming out regarding his health, that optimism will only grow between now and the 2012 regular season.
Again, if he stays healthy.
Despite all of his missed time over the last few years, Merriman still has 44.5 career sacks. He had double-digit sacks in each of his first three seasons as a pro, totaling 187 tackles and 39.5 sacks in 42 games.
If he could bring even some of that production to the Bills defense, imagine the possibilities.
Buffalo already drastically improved its pass rush by signing both Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency. Even without Merriman, the Bills seem poised to put more pressure on the quarterback next year.
Will Merriman help the Bills in 2012?
Adding Merriman to the mix would be a bonus weapon at defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s disposal. Per Pompei’s report, Merriman is expected to compete with Mark Anderson at right defensive end while Mario Williams holds down the left end. Merriman could also be useful when/if the Bills use 3-4 fronts, as he could stand up and rush off the edge.
Either way, the Bills would welcome the help.
Buffalo invested a good amount of money to take a chance on Merriman. Desperate for pass-rushing help, it scooped him up off waivers in 2010 and offered him a two-year, $10.5 million contract along with incentives. He’s scheduled to make $4 million this year before becoming a free agent in 2013.
For Merriman, this could be his last shot to prove he’s still capable of playing and producing at the game’s highest level. Not only is he playing for his next contract, he’s also playing for his career.
For the Bills, well, they’ll take what they can get from him. The team added enough talent that if it were to not have Merriman’s services, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. At this point, the Bills would be happy just to get some value for their money.
But they may get more than that. If Merriman can suit it up in 2012 and stay on the field, his presence would make Buffalo’s defense that much more dangerous.
The team's front four has already received a lot of hype as being one of the best in the league. Add a healthy Merriman to the mix, and that group gets even deeper.
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