It didn’t take very long for former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman to suffer his first injury as a Buffalo Bill. Lights Out was forced to leave his first Bills practice of the season moments after it began with a lower leg injury that forced the former Defensive Rookie of the Year to limp off the practice field and onto the sideline. After being evaluated by team doctors, Merriman was taken inside and did not finish practice.
Merriman, who recently was picked up on waivers by the last place AFC East squad, has struggled with injuries over the last three seasons and these constant injury setbacks were a large part of the reason why Merriman was released by his former squad. In fact in his first three seasons as a professional, Merriman compiled a mind-blowing total of 39.5 sacks. And this includes a 4 game suspension for steroid use. The next three seasons of Merriman’s career he would compile less sacks then the sack master may have compiled in one single game in his prime. Merriman only made 4 sacks in 3 seasons and missed more games then he started over the span due to injuries and ineffective play.
When Merriman was recently released most NFL critics said that no team would pick up the former man-child off waivers because his current deal was far too much for his actual value. But Buffalo, being the most desperate team for defensive talent in the league, decided to take the risk on Light Out and hope that a new destination can help him discover his pre 2008 form. In all reality though, I’d say that the damage has already been done to the star and his better days are likely behind him.
Merriman has been removed from top notch play for so long that it is hard to believe that he could ever compile the type of numbers he used to. Acquiring him if you are a team like Buffalo isn’t a terrible concept considering how bad they are on defense, but paying him the remainder of his San Diego salary in the process is criminal. Lights Out is another remainder of how fast a player can fall from that upper echelon of elite football players and today the player is likely to pile up more injuries and problems away from the game then sacks on the field.
But perhaps most telling of all about the career of Shawne Merriman is that his finest year (AKA his first year too), he also tested positive for steroids and sat out 4 games. So maybe his first three seasons were a bit “enhanced” compared to the last three?