KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs is brought down by Shawne Merriman #56 of the Buffalo Bills during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
At first blush, Shawne Merriman's return to the NFL on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium might not appear to have gone well. The Buffalo Bills outside linebacker finished his first game with his new team despite suffering a shoulder injury, and picked up just one tackle on the day.
I'm not yet done reviewing the Bills' 41-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but my first impressions of Merriman's play are far better than what his stat line may indicate.
Merriman did not show much as a pass rusher, but I'm chalking that up to a pretty conservative defensive game plan on the part of George Edwards. The Bills didn't give the Chiefs a ton of looks nor dial up exotic pressures, because frankly, they didn't need to - they had a lead, and they were content rushing four and letting Matt Cassel bury the Chiefs further. Merriman appeared to be on cruise control in this department.
Where he really showed was against the run. Again, I haven't reviewed all of his snaps, but he looked highly physical at the point of attack, and did a great job setting the edge. He routinely separated easily from blockers and made plays in the pile. He was a big factor in helping the Bills shave a full two yards off of Jamaal Charles' yards-per-carry average against them.
In short: I'm not any more or less worried about Merriman than I was before Week 1. It was a quiet week for Merriman, but there were very positive signs. Keep the faith, if only for another week, that this experiment may just pan out.