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Merriman already a force

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/13461512.htm" target="_blank">Kansas City Star
    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/merriman04.jpg" alt="Shawne Merriman Sacks Kerry Collins" />


    He's the man whose smashing tackle ended Priest Holmes' season and possibly his career. He's the man who sacked Trent Green twice and forced him to fumble the last time the Chiefs faced San Diego.

    Nicknamed "Lights Out," San Diego rookie left outside linebacker, Shawne Merriman, wears a tattoo of a light switch in the off position on his right forearm, and he helped turn out the lights on Indianapolis' bid for a perfect season in the Chargers' 26-17 win over the Colts on Sunday.

    "Look at him; he's a beast - no hiding that," fellow outside linebacker Shaun Phillips said after Merriman, a 6-foot-4, 264-pounder, terrorized Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.

    Merriman, the Chargers' first-round draft pick, dropped Manning for a 6-yard loss on a fourth-down bootleg at the goal line in the second quarter. And he shared two sacks and delivered another one of the Chargers' four sacks of Manning, who going into last Sunday's game had been sacked 12 times all season.

    That performance earned Merriman AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors and no doubt contributed to his selection to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday. Despite missing the first game because of a sore knee and not breaking into the starting lineup until midseason, Merriman enters Saturday's game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium leading the Chargers and leading NFL rookies with 9 sacks.

    It's exactly what the Chargers expect of Merriman, a first-team All-American at Maryland as a junior last year.

    "I'm in his ear all the time," said veteran inside linebacker Donnie Edwards. "I keep telling him, ‘You need to be Defensive Rookie of the Year. We want you to be Defensive Rookie of the Year.' "

    In a year of some outstanding rookie defensive players, including fellow linebackers Odell Thurman of Cincinnati (five interceptions, 1.5 sacks) and Lofa Tatupu of Seattle (4.5 sacks), Merriman just may be the best.

    "My teammates tell me I'm the best rookie in football, and they tell me that every day, and I have to go out there and prove it," Merriman said in the Chargers' locker room on Sunday.

    Merriman, also a critical component in the NFL's top run defense that held the Colts' Edgerrin James to a season-low 25 yards in 13 carries, is the best young pass rusher Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer has seen since the late Derrick Thomas with the Chiefs.

    But Schottenheimer paid Merriman the ultimate compliment by comparing him to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.

    "He's a terrific player; very, very powerful," Schottenheimer said. "I'm not comparing him to some of the great ones, but he reminds me in a fashion of Lawrence Taylor, given his speed and his unusual power. He weighs 264 pounds, so that generates some of that power, but he is a very difficult guy to block one-on-one for a tackle, a tight end or running back.

    "He's a totally different style than Derrick. Derrick used great quickness and movement. Shawne just gets in there and runs them over."

    Merriman even wears No. 56 as Taylor did, but he does it more as a tribute to Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was a mentor of his when Merriman played in high school in Upper Marlboro, Md., and was a teammate of Arrington's younger brother.

    "I never like being compared to anybody because I think everybody is his own player," Merriman said, "but at the same time, when you get compared to a guy like Lawrence Taylor, you can't help but consider that a compliment.

    "But I don't want to be like Lawrence. I want to be better than Lawrence Taylor. That being said, I have a whole lot of work still left."

    Despite Sunday's win, the Chargers, who are 9-5, are still not ensured of a playoff berth because Pittsburgh, also 9-5, has the head-to-head tie breaker on San Diego. After Saturday's game against the Chiefs, the Chargers finish at home against AFC West-leading Denver.

    "We're a team that defies the odds," Merriman said.

    "We have more games to play, and these last two games really count for us."

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