By Tim Graham
Shawne Merriman confirmed he had spent some time lounging in the sun. That's where the raw skin on his nose and cheeks came from, falling asleep on a Miami beach after a recent workout.
But he claimed today he's ready to play right away, and the Buffalo Bills apparently agree. Merriman, out of work since the Bills cut him in August, came back to the club Monday to help fill the void of injured defensive end Mark Anderson.
Bills coach Chan Gailey said Merriman likely will be active for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"As long as he's in playing shape and everything goes well this week and he gets back into the flow of things," Gailey said, "he's probably going to be right there on Sunday afternoon, giving us some help."
Gailey said he will give Merriman reps on the scout team this week to gauge his football conditioning. Merriman already knows defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt's 4-3 system. So that's not a concern.
"It's become second nature," Merriman said today in his first comments since being re-signed. "I went through just about a whole training camp and got very comfortable, especially towards the end of training camp with the scheme and how things work."
Merriman seems to be returning to the Bills somewhat begrudgingly. After he was released, he stated he wasn't interested in playing 4-3 defensive end.
He had spent his entire career as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That was the position of his glory years with the San Diego Chargers. He went to three Pro Bowls and gathered 39.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons.
Merriman recently tweeted to a follower that he wasn't a 4-3 defensive end anymore. Yet here he is in Buffalo, where he's second on the depth chart at right defensive end behind Chris Kelsay.
"I played linebacker my whole entire life, but when you're a football player you're a football player," Merriman said. "You can put your hand in the dirt. You can stand up.
"Obviously, if these guys didn't think I could play D-end, they wouldn't have brought me back. I'm happy to not only contribute, but pick up where I left off and do what they ask me to do."
Merriman admitted it was difficult to wait for a phone call the past two months.
"To go through that transition where you're kind of waiting for a guy to go down -- not just here, but all across the league -- based on team needs" was difficult, Merriman said. "Everybody that I talked to during my time off, nobody felt I couldn't play anymore. That wasn't a question. It was more of team needs and who they have available to come in and play right now."