We've haven't seen Shawne Merriman operate at full throttle in nearly half a decade, but the Buffalo Bills defensive end says he's ready to make a difference on a defense that's learned to play without him.
"One hundred percent," Merriman told The Buffalo News on Friday. "I feel very comfortable right now."
On the rebound from shoulder and Achilles surgeries, Merriman can't be relied on for consistent production. As we've pointed out in previous posts describing his glittering return, Merriman has played in just 23 games and logged just five sacks since 2008. The Bills furnished him with a two-year $10.5 million contract laced with $5 million guaranteed before last season. Their patience is almost required.
Coach Chan Gailey told The News he's "excited about where (Merriman) is physically -- really physically and mentally because he's come out every day with an outlook that's just outstanding."
"He works hard. He looks quick. He looks healthy. That part of it has been refreshing for us ... what I think we're going to see is the old Shawne Merriman this year."
The Bills have spent lucratively to add defensive ends Mario Williams (six years, $96M) and Mark Anderson (four years, $19.5M). The team thinks highly of second-year defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Merriman is still in the process of transitioning from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end. He says he feels "at home," but the Bills won't be comfortable with this arrangement until Merriman starts dropping quarterbacks to the turf.