Bills Place LB Shawne Merriman on IR

Merriman, who earned the nickname “Lights Out” when he was one of the NFL’s most feared players, was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday because of a right Achilles’ tendon injury. It’s the same injury that forced the Bills to place him on IR last November after they signed him as a free agent following his release from the San Diego Chargers.

“Shawne has worked extremely hard, but unfortunately his Achilles flared back up and it doesn’t appear that he will be able to return to the field anytime soon,” Bills general manager Buddy Nix said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. “We felt it was in the best interest of our team and for Shawne to put him on IR.”

After being bothered by a nagging shoulder injury for the past month, Merriman’s Achilles suddenly became a problem on the Thursday before the Bills’ 27-24 loss to the New York Giants. Merriman missed that game, but he expressed confidence that he’d be able to return and not miss any significant time when the Bills came back from the bye.

“I’m expecting it to hold up well and bounce back and do what I need to do,” the 27-year-old told the Associated Press last week. “I’m feeling a lot better than I did a week ago as of right now. It’s going to be a work in progress. Personally for me, it’s about peaking at the right time, and this bye week has been perfect for me.”

But the Achilles didn’t make as much progress as the Bills had hoped, and it’s left them with a severe dent in a pass rush that’s generated only four sacks this season. Coach Chan Gailey and several players spoke last week about the need to pressure the quarterback to take the heat off Buffalo’s defensive backfield, which has allowed 300-plus yards passing three times already this season.

Overall, Buffalo ranks 31st in total defense.

“I think we just need to keep finetuning the things that we’re not doing well,” Gailey said. “I think what we’re doing is good, but I think we’re not doing it very well. We’re playing hard, we’re not playing better.”

Merriman’s season was average at best, mostly due to his inability to stay healthy. After recording a pair of sacks in Buffalo’s preseason opener against Chicago, he hurt his right knee in practice. That kept him out of two preseason games.

He then hurt his shoulder in Week 2 against Oakland, and the Bills began to monitor both his playing and practice time. That basically made him a part-time player.

Nix has always been a big believer in Merriman after previously working in the Chargers front office when they made Merriman their first pick (12th overall) in the 2005 draft. Hoping Merriman could rekindle some of his past glory with a Bills defense that was in desperate need of a pass-rushing specialist, Nix re-signed Merriman to a two-year deal just a day before Buffalo’s 2010 season finale at the New York Jets.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Merriman finishes the season with nine tackles, one sack and five games. Coming into the season, he had 43 1/2 sacks in 60 career games — but only four sacks from 2008-10 when his production was slowed by injuries.

He missed most of the 2008 season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, and after sitting out most of the 2010 offseason workouts and part of training camp to protest his contract status, he was slowed by an Achilles’ tendon injury and then a calf injury before being released.

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Bills Place WR Easley on IR

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills placed receiver Marcus Easley on injured reserve on Tuesday for the second straight year.

Easley missed Buffalo’s season-opening win at Kansas City with what the team said was an illness.

Easley, a 2010 fourth-round pick from UConn, missed his entire rookie season because of a knee injury. He had a strong preseason this year. Against Jacksonville, he had five catches and a touchdown.

Coach Chan Gailey on Monday said he’d rather have Easley disclose the ailment. Easley left Friday’s practice early.

To replace Easley, the team re-signed free-agent receiver Ruvell Martin, who was cut by the Bills Sept. 6.

The Bills also released quarterback Levi Brown from their practice squad, and signed cornerback Terrence Wheatley to the practice squad. Wheatley was New England’s second-round pick in 2008.

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Bills LB Moats Rooting for Favre to Be Healthy

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Arthur Moats would prefer seeing start his 298th consecutive game this weekend.

The rookie linebacker has mixed emotions on whether he wants to be remembered as the guy who ended the quarterback’s NFL-record starting streak.

“I don’t want to see anybody hurting and not playing any more. If he plays, that would be a good thing,” Moats said Monday. “But if he doesn’t, and I was the guy to end the streak, all right. That’s a little notable, yeah.”

Moats has become the focus of attention after he hit Favre square in the back and sent him to the turf on the third play from scrimmage in Buffalo’s 38-14 loss on Sunday. Favre did not return and was diagnosed with a sprained joint in his throwing shoulder, leaving his status unsure for this weekend’s game against the .

“I didn’t want to hurt him, but it just happened,” Moats said. “During the play, you’re not thinking like, ‘Oh man, that’s Brett Favre.’ You’re just thinking, ‘That’s a quarterback. My job is to sack him.'”

Moats said Favre let out a moan just as he was hit, and was surprised that the quarterback was injured on the play.

It wasn’t until after the game, when Moats noticed the numerous text messages and voice mails left on his cell phone, that he began to realize how potentially significant the hit was, or how many times it had been replayed on television.

“Everybody’s been going crazy about it,” Moats said. “But it comes with the job, so I’m not going to complain about it.”

Selected in the sixth round out of James Madison, Moats has been getting additional playing time in a linebacking group that’s lost three starters to injuries this season.

In 11 games, he’s been credited with eight tackles and a half sack.

Coach Chan Gailey said Moats is expected to get more playing time after starter Reggie Torbor was placed on injured reserve last week, and reserve Antonio Coleman was added to the list on Monday.

As for the hit on Favre, Gailey said it’s only getting attention because of the player that was involved.

“It’ll be a great trivia question in 15 years or so, but it was just another play in the game, to be honest with you,” Gailey said.

And Gailey is rooting for Favre’s streak to continue.

“You’re always pulling for a guy like that who’s done so much for the game and meant so much for the game,” Gailey said.

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