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Three Chargers defensive starters expected to sit out vs. Browns

SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers likely will be missing some key defensive players Sunday when they visit the Cleveland Browns.

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Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, defensive end Luis Castillo and safety Eric Weddle aren't expected to play after missing Thursday's practice.

Merriman has been bothered by a foot injury and hasn't practiced all week. It's a soft tissue ailment that has proved problematic. He would be replaced by rookie Larry English.

Castillo hasn't played or practiced since hurting his ankle during the Nov. 22 victory over the Denver Broncos. Alfonso Boone is filling in for Castillo in the starting lineup.

Weddle is expected to miss the next two games with a knee injury. In his absence, Paul Oliver and Steve Gregory will be part of the mix, depending on the package the Chargers employ.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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