Cut Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman’s six-year NFL career in half, and you’d think you were looking at two completely different players.
In Merriman’s first three seasons, 2005-2007, he was one of the best defensive players in football, recording 39.5 sacks. In the last three seasons, 2008-2010, Merriman has missed more games than he’s played and recorded a grand total of four sacks.
It would be easy to look at those numbers and conclude that injuries to his calf, knee and Achilles tendon have slowed Merriman down to the point that the just isn’t going to be a productive NFL player again. But Merriman insists that he can be the Merriman of old again this year.
“I feel good, man,” Merriman said. “Fans and the people watching the game, they’re going to know, for one, that I’m back playing the way I need to play.”
Merriman is only 27, so he’s not exactly over the hill. And he showed flashes of speed and power in the preseason, with two sacks and a tackle for loss in limited playing time. Merriman says he’s itching to show he can do it in a game that counts.
“I’ve been waiting a long time,” he said. “Being away from the game, it makes you that much more hungry to get back on the field.”
Merriman only has six more days to wait.