(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Without question, Merriman is one the elite defensive presences in the NFL. No one is more aware of this now than the very organization he represents and the fans who cheer for him week after week.
Last season, Merriman's participation was cut short after an injured knee was deemed to be too difficult to play on after week one.
The Bolts defense sans Merriman was then but a shadow of itself, failing to contain the running game effectively and rush the quarterback, allowing teams to pass on San Diego with ease.
After a fairly calm preseason, Merriman looks to have no lingering effects from his injury, and is primed to make a big return in 2009.
Pros: Explosive, extremely athletic player with fantastic speed, gargantuan strength and a non-stop motor. A sure tackler with great evasive maneuvers. Formidable pass rusher who gets in backfield often, pressure play creates turnovers and mistakes by opposition.
Cons: Effectiveness stripped away somewhat when he drops back in pass coverage, is sometimes tripped up by own aggressiveness in running game, as patient rushers can get past him by relying on blocks and simple jukes. Is his injury 100% healed? Legal situation may hinder himself and team in near future.
2009 Season Outlook: A player with Merriman's intensity, heart, and a sizable chip on his shoulder should be respected at the very least and regarded as a violent, demonic,and terrifying presence ideally. Ten to 15 sacks, a trip to the Pro Bowl, defensive player of the year?
None of it can be ruled out when discussing a player of Merriman's caliber.