Bills head coach Chan Gailey and GM Buddy Nix have talked time and again about doing everything in the name of making the football team better. As he walked off the practice field Thursday, Gailey commented on the acquisition of LB Shawne Merriman, which was made with that sole purpose in mind.
"Any time you can pick up a quality player it doesn't matter what position it is you've helped your football team," said Gailey. "We're just fortunate that this guy has a lot of tools. It's not just a few things. He's got a lot of tools."
As Gailey sees it Merriman, who is tentatively scheduled to arrive at One Bills Drive Friday for a physical among other logistics, is a player that when healthy can be a pivotal addition to their defense where they've lacked a proven pass rusher.
"What I knew about him when he played, he obviously was one of the best in the league at his position," said Gailey. "If he comes in here and is healthy, and I think he's supposed to be, and he decides the play the way he's capable of playing he can really help our football team. He can help make a difference for us. He's one of the best players in the league when he plays."
Injuries have dramatically impacted Merriman's production each of the last two seasons. Gailey however, doesn't see himself in a position to comment knowledgeably on Merriman's physical state having not even spoken to him by phone at this point.
Gailey admitted that the decision to put a waiver claim in for Merriman on Wednesday stemmed largely from Buddy Nix's time as Assistant GM and Director of Player Personnel for San Diego (2003-2007).
"Buddy probably had more knowledge on this guy than anybody having been around him for a few years," Gailey said. "The relationship probably had as much to do with it as anything."
A day after the Bills were awarded the claim on Merriman, Buffalo's locker room was still buzzing about the possibilities defensively with the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker in their lineup.
"We're happy to have him," said Paul Posluszny. "He's a Pro Bowl caliber player and we feel like he's going to be able to come in and help our defense. So we're excited to get him acclimated to our system and get him on the field."
Gailey, who confirmed that Merriman will not dress for Sunday's game, doesn't see a steep learning curve for the veteran linebacker in terms of getting adjusted to his new defensive scheme in Buffalo.
"Mentally it won't be that hard because he's used to the 3-4 defense and what we're doing," he said. "I don't think the terminology will be that foreign to him. So it depends on what kind of shape he's in and that will determine how much, if any, he plays."
And though there are questions about just what Merriman can bring a few seasons removed from his best football, the players in Buffalo's locker room have faith that they won't be disappointed.
"I think Buddy has a lot of confidence in him and his abilities even though he's been nicked here and there," said Posluszny. "Buddy knows that he can help this team and he's going to bring in good players that can help us defensively. Right now we're having some problems on 'D' and the more big time players we can bring in the better."
"I think all of us are trying to do the very best for this team whatever the situation is," said Gailey. "If it turns out the way we hope it does it could be a big boost for our football team."