By Tim Graham
Given his medical chart, Merriman's inability to practice always will be cause for concern. So I made sure to check in with the Buffalo Bills defensive end after practice.
Merriman wasn't concerned with his issue. He revealed he was held out of practice as a precaution because of a tight left hamstring. Nothing to panic about.
Bills coach Chan Gailey said Merriman should practice Tuesday night, when the Bills hold their final St. John Fisher College session that's open to the public.
"If you think about it, this is the first time I've practiced this much in three years," Merriman said. "From OTAs all the way to now, I missed one practice where I rolled my ankle [two weeks ago].
"Other than that, it's getting used to playing football again, being sore, being able to recover and then go back out there and do it again. That's what it's about now."
Merriman has been sidelined in the past by major injuries to his knee and Achilles tendon. He is coming back from Achilles surgery that ended his 2011 season after five games.
With so many setbacks, I wondered how Merriman mentally handles even the slightest injuries. Do they put a scare into him every time?
"Once you have something that's severe, an Achilles or knee or something like that," Merriman said, "and you roll your ankle or your groin gets a little tight, you're like, 'Oh, OK. This is nothing. I'll be fine.'
"This has happened before, and I would panic because I would hate getting hurt, period, in any kind of way. But when you have something that's as severe as I've had and you come back and now you're working yourself through it, you expect to get tight."
Merriman insisted he's still on track to be a significant contributor for the regular season.
He had a solid preseason debut in Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Washington Redskins. He recorded only two tackles, but had one of the Bills' eight quarterback hits and stuffed Chris Cooley for a 1-yard gain on a play from the Redskins' 1-yard line.
"I'm happy, man," Merriman said. "I'm happy playing football again. It's a feeing I can't even describe because football has been such a big part of my life. When that's taken away from you, you start thinking about how much you miss it."