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Filling in for Merriman to be group effort

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Until Wednesday, Jyles Tucker sat behind Shawne Merriman on the Chargers’ depth chart, but whether or not he’ll be on the field with the starting defense Sunday in Denver has apparently not been determined.

    “Truthfully, I just know that everybody is rotating,” Tucker said. “There’s not really a starter. I just know that everybody is going to get a fair chance to play.”

    Tucker will certainly see his number of reps increase with Merriman landing on “Reserve-Injured” Wednesday, but he won’t be asked to shoulder the entire load in the absence of the three-time Pro Bowler.

    “We have a number of guys who have played there, who have experience at outside linebacker,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “We’re going to come up with the best group of guys, the best package. It might be by committee. We’re going to evaluate a lot of things this week and come up with a plan.”

    Merriman announced Tuesday that after trying to play on his injured left knee, he’ll undergo an operation to repair two torn ligaments and miss the rest of the season. Merriman has yet to comment on his situation since making the announcement but met with Turner Tuesday afternoon to inform his coach of his plans.

    “He’s a football player and he’s as tough a guy, as good a competitor as you’re ever going to be around,” Turner said. “There’s a reason he did what he did: he wanted to play. It’s hard on anyone when you get put in a position where you can’t do what you love to do.”

    Based on the situation, Turner and his players have known for a few weeks now that Merriman’s situation could play out this way. While they felt bad for their teammates, no one was caught off guard by his decision.

    “We were prepared for this before it came up,” said linebacker Marques Harris. “Obviously there are big shoes to fill but as a linebacker group, we know what we have to do. We’ve done it before. We’re losing a warrior, but we’ll step up.”

    Like Tucker, Harris will see his role increase in Merriman’s absence. Linebacker Antwan Applewhite, who had an impressive training camp, was elevated from the practice squad to take Merriman’s place on the 53-man roster and will also be in the mix.

    Shaun Phillips has started opposite of Merriman for the last three years and has 31 career sacks. Turner acknowledged that some of the attention Merriman received from opponents may shift Phillips’ way, and the five-year veteran is prepared.

    “It’s not like I didn’t get attention before,” Phillips said. “I’ve been producing year in and year out and I’m going to continue to do that. It’s not about me. It’s about this team. As long as we keep the focus on this team we’ll be okay.”

    While Phillips will be the first to admit he has benefited from the talent around him, his success certainly hasn’t been predicated on Merriman’s presence. Last season, Phillips had perhaps his best game of the season against Detroit when he put the heat on Jon Kitna and returned an interception for a touchdown.

    During Merriman’s suspension in 2006, the Chargers went 4-0. Phillips missed the first of those four games due to injury, but in the other three he excelled. His sack and forced fumble of Carson Palmer near Cincinnati’s goal line set up a score and helped spark a Chargers comeback. The next week in Denver, he ended a potential game-tying drive with a sack and forced fumble. He had nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in Oakland a week later.

    “It’s not going to change what Shaun does,” Turner said. “He’s an outstanding football player in his own right. He’ll probably get a lot more attention than he has in the past but he’s a playmaker.”

    Merriman has yet to determine when or where he’ll have the operation to repair his PCL and LCL, but regardless, his season is over after one game. No one in the Chargers locker room would discount Merriman’s loss, but no one was ready to wave the white flag either.

    “It’s obviously a big blow for us,” Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “He’s a leader on this team and obviously a leader on the defense. We all have to pick up our play a little bit and try to come together any way we can, pretty much how we did it a couple of years ago when he was suspended.”

    LT down, Hardwick returns

    Tomlinson took the day off Wednesday to rest his sore toe, one he injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s opener.

    “It’s doing better,” Tomlinson said. “It is feeling a lot better and I probably could practice but I think the smartest thing to do is probably just to rest it.”

    Tomlinson fully intends to play in Denver, and Turner said the two-time defending rushing champion will likely be back on the practice field Tuesday.

    Center Nick Hardwick was in pads and participated in the individual period Wednesday, a good sign that he’s continuing to make progress.

    Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill (neck) were the only other Chargers who missed practice, while tight end Antonio Gates (toe) was limited during team drills.

  2. Holy_Bolt

    Holy_Bolt Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    I’m can’t wait to see what Tucker can do. He is an exciting prospect.
  3. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    He can play himself into a position that gives us some leverage and insulation on Merriman's next contract. If he plays up to potential Merriman becomes monster trade bait if he won't be reasonable about a contract. AJ should get into negotiations as soon as soon as Merriman's recovery status begins to clear up.
  4. Osmekaman

    Osmekaman BoltTalker

    Jul 1, 2008
    Can't see SM being tradable now. Who would part with much for someone coming off career threatening surgery?
    Also, the way his whole situation was handled can only further affect his relationship with the FO and hinder any chance at re-signing him.
    Surely the best we can hope for is a monster last year in 09 from him, and a compensatory draft pick.

    I would like to know who will be paying his monster salary at the moment, considering the team recommended surgery?
  5. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

    Sep 8, 2006
    Yeah this injury situation has really opened a large can of worms as far as his contract goes. I think it's a given that the injury and year off are going to cost him a little bit. And depending on his productivity next year, coming off the injury, it could cost him even more. So in one regard it almost makes it more likely that we'll be able to retain the guy. He was likely to become the highest paid defensive player in the league at the pace he was going... I think this definitely changes that.

    At the same time, the way this situation has unfolded seriously makes me question how much we want him back.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    He's with us through 2009. When he's healthy and cleared to play is when he'll have some value. This surgery has a good chance of being highly successful, which makes me even more mad. This could have been cleared up altogether with the timely surgery he refused.

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