Shawne Merriman was on the practice field for about 15 minutes in a Buffalo Bills uniform before re-aggravating an injury that eventually forced him to injured reserve. After a hefty contract extension, the outside linebacker is rehabbing and getting ready for the 2011 season, says Bills head coach Chan Gailey.
"I can only give the report that I get," Gailey told BuffaloBills.com. "I get the report from the training staff, Bud Carpenter and his staff and all things are positive at this point. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how he progresses, his continual improvement and what he’ll be able to do if we can get on the field with him."
Seeing Merriman on the field should bolster the Bills' anemic pass rush, and provide a dynamic they lost when Aaron Schobel retired. GM Buddy Nix may change his draft approach based on the health of the man he once helped draft as a member of the San Diego Chargers front office.
"A big factor for us is if Merriman gets healthy," said Nix. "So far, so good. If he does (get healthy), he adds a lot to the pass rush. I think a lot will depend on that."
"I know him and I’ve got a lot of confidence in him too," Nix continued. "He’s a great player. He did a lot of good things for us in San Diego and when he came in there we really started getting better on defense."
Nix went on to state in his interview with BuffaloBills.com that he believes the young pass rushing talent on the roster is pretty good.
"We feel good about outside 'backer," said Nix. "We do have a bunch of good young guys. We need a couple of inside 'backers. We need some bigger, stronger guys to help us stop the run."
If the GM's words mean anything this time of year, it looks like Von Miller may not be a consideration at number three after all. The Bills may be content to ride with Merriman, Chris Kelsay and Arthur Moats, along with some of their other young prospects.