Merriman sits out practice Friday, expects to play on Sunday

The AFC defensive player of the week disagrees.

SAN DIEGO -- Chargers coach Norv Turner said it's 50-50 whether All-Pro outside linebacker Shawne Merriman will plays Sunday at Tennessee.

"Yeah, I'll be good," Merriman said Friday after sitting out practice a second straight day to rest his ailing right calf. He injured it Sunday against Kansas City, when he had three sacks to push his season total to 9 1/2.

"It's calming down. I went out there Wednesday and did a couple of things, but Thursday and today I didn't do much. "It's feeling good now. I'm just doing this as a precaution."

The Chargers (7-5) will need Merriman as they chase mobile Titans quarterback Vince Young. A Chargers win Sunday, coupled with a Denver loss to the Chiefs, will give San Diego consecutive AFC West titles.

Running back Darren Sproles also did not practice Friday because of a strained right knee. Sproles is the Chargers' punt returner and if he can't go, he would be replaced by rookie wide receiver Craig Davis.

"It's gotten better each day but we will take him out on Sunday and run him and see how he feels," Turner said.

Defensive end Jacques Cesaire continues to work despite undergoing surgery on his right thumb Monday. Cesaire is practicing with a cumbersome bandage and padding on his right hand, but said he will play Sunday.

Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick (foot) also worked and will start for the third straight week after missing the previous four games. The only other Charger not working was defensive end Luis Castillo (ankle). It's likely he won't return until Dec. 24 against the visiting Broncos.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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