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Bolts' Foley taking an interest in Merriman

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <strong>August 6, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/08/06/sports/professional/chargers/22_44_548_5_05.txt">North County Times</a>

    SAN DIEGO ---- They were the lone Chargers on the field, expending sweat while teammates were singing in the showers. Veteran Steve Foley's tune to Shawne Merriman is get it right rookie, with the swim move being Friday's post-practice lesson at Chargers Park.

    Foley was the engaging instructor, with Merriman playing the role of a receptive student.

    "He's got a lot of upside, a lot of potential," Foley said of the draft's 12th overall pick.

    So did hundreds of college stars coming before Merriman. And Foley is quick to point out being a stud at the previous level guarantees no success at the next.

    But many speculate stardom is Merriman's next destination. Foley, though, warns the former University of Maryland standout that it can be a long road.

    "He's a strong, powerful guy but I think he needs some polishing up as far as his pass-rushing in particular," Foley said. "That is going to come
    Foley hopes to accelerate the process by taking Merriman under his weathered wing. The two are practically connected at the hip, except on the field when lining up as outside linebackers on opposite ends.

    "He's been the best as far as bringing me along," Merriman said of Foley. "He's been doing it for so long, and did it so good last year, that he wants some pressure from the other side."

    Foley, who is starting his eighth year, was basically a one-man wrecking crew for the Chargers' pass rush last season. The team managed but 29 sacks, and Foley had 10.

    Foley's thinking is that by helping Merriman, he's helping himself and the team. Rival offenses might be forced to look elsewhere to avoid pocket pressure, which seldom happened last season.

    Not only is Merriman Foley's project, but his valet as well. After Merriman's first practice Tuesday night, he carried Foley's pads and helmet into the locker room before meeting with the media.

    "He's pretty much my bait right now, he's my little fish," Foley said. "I've got to make sure he's got the defense down because that is going to be big.

    "We all know he is going to play, but how much he plays is up to him. (Defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips isn't going to put you out there if you don't know the defense. I'm trying to drill that into his head, but his eyes are as big as speakers."

    Now hear this, Mr. Merriman: Those gaudy college statistics ---- 22 career sacks ---- don't mean squat.

    "You haven't done anything at this level yet," Foley said he reminds Merriman. "It's totally different. Everybody is big and strong; you're not going to blow by everybody. This ain't college."

    But Foley's NFL crash course is such that while Merriman has much to absorb, he's doing a good sponge imitation.

    "He has the right attitude coming in," Foley said. "He is very coachable ---- not one of those guys that thinks he knows it all. That alone means a lot, to know that you got somebody that is eager and excited to get better."

    Added Merriman: "Physically, everyone can play out here. But when you have guys that have been in the league a long time, they have the mental stuff."

    And if you don't, stuff happens on the field.

    "That's the biggest thing for him right now, learning the defense," Foley said. "If not, boy, you'll be over there on the sidelines wondering why you're standing by the coach."

    Instead, Foley wants Merriman to stand and deliver.

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