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 Re

BUFFALO (Reuters) – The have re-signed Shawne Merriman to a new contract with hopes the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker can help bolster their pass rush, the NFL team said on Saturday.

The Bills originally claimed the former San Diego Charger off waivers in early November but an Achilles injury prevented Merriman from playing a single down for Buffalo.

The team, last in the AFC East Division heading into their final game of the season on Sunday, did not disclose terms of the deal but the Buffalo News reported the contract is for two years and worth a total of $10.5 million.

“We had been working on it and we agreed on it and got everything signed this morning,” Bills General Manager Buddy Nix told the team’s website ().

“I know he’s a leader. He’s been a Pro Bowler. He’s only 26 years old and if he’s healthy he’ll make plays for us and help us win games.”

Merriman, known as “Lights Out” because of his hard hits, led the NFL with 39.5 sacks from 2005-07 but has been limited by injuries in recent seasons.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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Bills RB Spiller, DE Johnson Expected to Miss Week

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. As much as running back C.J. Spiller wants to practice this week, coach Chan Gailey doesn’t think that’s likely because of a hamstring injury.

On Monday, Gailey all but officially ruled out the rookie first-round draft pick from playing in Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati on Sunday. He also said defensive end Spencer Johnson is expected to miss at least one game because of a hamstring injury.

Both players were hurt in helping the Bills (1-8) secure their first win of the season on Sunday, a 14-12 victory over Detroit.

“If you talk to C.J., C.J. thinks he’s going to be hoping to practice probably this week,” Gailey said. “Probably a realistic thing is he’ll miss one (game), and then we’ll see from there.”

Spiller was hurt when planting his foot to brace himself as he was pushed out of bounds after a 29-yard punt return in the second quarter.

He said he didn’t initially feel the injury until after he got up and began making his way across the field to the Bills sideline.

On Monday, Spiller walked with a slight limp favoring his right leg, and said he wants to practice once the team returns on Wednesday.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

Without Spiller, newly signed running back Quinton Ganther will take over the backup duties to starter Fred Jackson. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin will handle both kickoff and punt returns in place of Spiller and receiver Roscoe Parrish, who was placed on injured reserve last week after he broke his wrist.

Johnson, hurt in the second half against Detroit, was spotted in the Bills locker room with a wrap around his upper right leg.

Gailey called it an “outside chance” that Johnson will practice this week, and said the player could miss as many as two games.

Gailey also updated the status of Shawne Merriman, saying he doesn’t expect the linebacker to begin practicing until next week. Merriman aggravated a right Achilles’ tendon injury early into his first practice with the Bills on Wednesday, a week after being claimed off waivers from San Diego.

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