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Inside Slant - 08/25/08

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=teamreports-2008-nfl-sdg&amp;prov=sportsxchange&amp;type=team_report" target="_blank">Yahoo Sports</a>

    <a href="http://images.townnews.com/nctimes.com/content/articles/2007/12/21/sports/professional/chargers/22_12_3312_20_07.jpg"><img class="alignleft" title="Shawne Merriman" src="http://images.townnews.com/nctimes.com/content/articles/2007/12/21/sports/professional/chargers/22_12_3312_20_07.jpg" alt="" width="191" height="235" /></a>It appears Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman's season is over before it got started.

    Or at the very least, it will be compromised because of two torn ligaments in his knee.

    Merriman, who has mores sacks (39.5) the past three seasons than any other player, is contemplating playing through the pain or taking care of his wobbly knee.

    "It could be career threatening if I (play)," Merriman said. It's a possibility."

    Merriman has crisscrossed the nation speaking with specialists as he contemplates how to deal with torn posterior and lateral cruciate ligaments.

    "I've been seeing some really great doctors over the past few days, and they've all said the same things about the injury," said Merriman, who last played in the Chargers' Aug. 9 preseason opener against the Cowboys. "(They're) kind of surprised that I've been playing with it up to this point."

    Merriman, who calls the knee "very unstable," had his meniscus repaired five months ago. But the ligament damage is causing considerable pain.

    Clouding Merriman's decision is his contract status-his deal runs out after the 2009 season.

    Here's a brief look at Merriman's options:

    • Merriman's injury hasn't prevented him from working on the side; he also played in the Aug. 9 exhibition opener and had a tackle. But the pain is proving to be too severe. If he's hurting this much before embarking on a season the club expects will extend past the 16-game, regular season, that has to weigh on Merriman's mind.

    While eager to be part of what could be a special Chargers team, Merriman might contemplate how he'll feel in February if his knee is revolting this much in August. Can he fight through the pain?

    • Maybe Merriman has arthroscopic surgery, which stabilizes the knee and allows him to put off a more serious operation until after the season. If this option is viable, he might miss the first month of the season. Then he returns for the final 12 games and playoffs.

    • If Merriman elects to have the ligament repaired, he faces an estimated nine-month recovery period. That would stabilize the knee, but derail his season.

    But the caveat is if he erased ‘08, his knee could help him excel in ‘09. That may trump everything because Merriman is a free agent after the ‘09 season and would be looking for a new contract off that year.

    The Chargers have other key players-quarterback Philip Rivers and left tackle Marcus McNeill-whose contracts end in 2009 too.

    It's doubtful they keep all three. If Merriman is confident the Chargers won't extend his contract, why wouldn't he get his knee fixed now and parlay that into a big payday come 2010?

    The Chargers remain confident that Merriman will play this season. But they seem to be in the minority clutching that opinion with the reality being the Chargers are likely without one of the NFL's top defensive players this season.

    If Merriman can't go, he would be replaced by Jyles Tucker and possibly Marques Harris. They are decent players but they are not Shawne Merriman.

    Merriman is still holding out hope he can play in 2008.

    "That's first and foremost," the three-time Pro Bowler said. "That's what I want to do. That's why this decision is even out there still and not already made, because I want to play, period. The question is, what should I do? How long should I play with it?

    "It's a thousand different options at this point, and I'm just trying to make the best one."

    Notes, Quotes

    • Tight end Antonio Gates (toe) is off the PUP list and is practicing with more regularity. That said, the toe is still bothering him and he has told some close to him it's going to be a long season as he tries to compensate for the pain he is still feeling. "It's one of those things where it feels really good one day and you come back another day and it's sore."

    • To build some team spirit, coach Norv Turner cancelled the last morning practice of training camp and sent the players off to a local water park to have fun. "I thought it was a great break for our guys," Turner said. "The roar that came out of the meeting room when I said those two words-water park-was pretty loud."

    • Center Jeremy Newberry continues to run with the starters, as Nick Hardwick is likely to miss the first month of the season with a foot injury. "I'm approaching it as whatever this team needs me to do, I'll do it."

    • Defensive end Luis Castillo is easing back into action after being slowed by a bad back. "If this were the regular season, I'd be playing," Castillo said. "We're being smart with it and now we'll start pushing it a little bit."

    • The Chargers attracted 28,507 fans to their 13 open training-camp practices. That topped last season's total of 23,158.

    Quote To Note:" "  "There are a lot of guys that probably played the most they've played in an NFL game to this point. I told them it's a lot different making a play compared to putting together 12 to 15 plays in a row and operating and managing the game."-Coach Norv Turner, on his backup players, after leaving most of the starters on the bench in the 7-6 loss to the Rams.

    Strategy And Personnel

    • ILB Derek Smith is starting to run with the first unit more as the season opener approaches. Smith will fill in for the first four games while Stephen Cooper serves his suspension.

    • FB Mike Tolbert, an undrafted rookie, has all but earned a roster spot. He's played well and the team is still not sure when FB Andrew Pinnock will be a full-go.

    • CB Antoine Cason, the team's top pick, is holding down the role as the nickel back.

    • RT Jeromey Clary needs to finish strong-he's had an uneven camp and is being pushed by L.J. Shelton.

    • C Nick Hardwick is making progress in rehabbing his foot, but he still seems to be a long-shot to be ready for the Sept. 7 opener.

    Battle Of The Week:" "  Ryon Bingham vs. Brandon McKinney for backup DT-It's going to happen, sooner rather than later, that the team will be without Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams. In fact, that day has already come to a degree as the team has to monitor Williams' sore knees on a daily basis. That means more time for someone in a backup role, and so far Bingham is filling in on a regular basis. Bingham has the edge on McKinney, although the beefier McKinney is seeing action on short-yardage situations. But Bingham will get the first call when the Chargers want to give Williams a blow.

    Other Battle Fronts:" "  Tim Dobbins vs. Brandon Siler for backup ILB-Dobbins got an extended look early last season and the results weren't good. But he's come to camp this season more in tuned to what the Chargers are asking of him, which allows him to be the physical player he is without having to think too much. Siler was expected to push him more for the responsibility of backing up Matt Wilhelm. But to date, Siler is falling a bit short. - Derek Smith vs. Anthony Waters for backup ILB-The competition to play behind Stephen Cooper-and start the first four games when the suspended Cooper is out-hasn't been as crisp as the team hoped. It knew what it was getting in the veteran Smith, and so far he has played as advertised. It was hoping Waters could give Smith a run, but Waters' knee hasn't cooperated. He had to have it cleaned out on the eve of training camp and he is just now getting back into the groove; he has played in both preseason games. But it appears Smith has the edge.

    Injury Report:

    • LT Marcus McNeill is still bothered by a stinger in his neck; he hopes to return to practice this week.

    • FB Andrew Pinnock is getting back into game-mode-finally-after offseason microfracture knee surgery.

    • WR Vincent Jackson is back working after skipping a significant number of practices with a tender hamstring. The team has said it is merely being cautious with its No. 2 wide receiver.

    • OL Scott Mruczkowski has returned to practice after suffering a foot injury. He is a critical backup on a line that has been hit by the injury bug.

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