With defensive end Mark Anderson still on the mend, the Bills sound as if they intend to have Shawne Merriman active this Sunday against Tennessee after signing him Monday. For Merriman it's a welcome second opportunity after his initial release last August.
"I'm excited man," said a smiling Merriman. "I'm definitely happy to be back in the building. I'm happy to not only contribute, but pick up where I left off and do what they need me to do."
Merriman took to the practice field with his teammates Wednesday cognizant of the fact that he can't control whether he gets significant playing time. Head coach Chan Gailey however, is leaning toward dressing him for Sunday's game.
"As long as he's in playing shape and everything goes well this week and he gets back into the flow of things, he's probably going to be right there on Sunday afternoon giving us some help," said Gailey.
The benefit for the Bills is Merriman is well versed in the team's defensive scheme having spent all offseason with the club.
"It's become second nature. I went just about a whole training camp and got very comfortable especially toward the end with sc
heme and how things work," Merriman said. "It became a little bit more natural for me."
Merriman appeared in just two preseason games for Buffalo this past summer recording three tackles before he was released by the Bills on Aug. 20th. At the time Bills GM Buddy Nix indicated that the move was made in part to give more reps to young ends Kyle Moore, who made the 53-man roster and performed admirably last week at Arizona, and Jarron Gilbert, who is on Buffalo's practice squad.
The veteran pass rusher admitted hopping off and on rosters is foreign territory for him after coming into the league as a first-round draft choice.
"It was a little different for me because I've always been a player in this league when I was healthy of course," he said. "But to go through that transition where you're waiting for a guy to go down all across the league or based on team needs… everybody I talked to during my time off, nobody felt I couldn't play anymore. That wasn't a question it was more of team needs and who they have available to come and play right now. So I'm just excited to be back."
With Anderson out indefinitely, Merriman figures to be part of a pass rushing rotation adding experienced depth.
"We're very excited to have him back," said Mario Williams. "He brings a different dimension to the defensive line. So we're looking forward to having him out on the field. The biggest thing for us with us having injuries especially having him out there with a physical presence will be an addition in a positive manner for us. So having him we definitely should have a better look."
During his time away from the club Merriman still kept in touch with former teammates via text. He also watched all of Buffalo's games thus far this season. The role of spectator doesn't come easy to Merriman, which is why this latest chance to return to the field is one that he wants to savor.
"Even though you're not playing you're still a fan of the game and when you know you can contribute and play it's a little bit tougher to sit back and watch the game," he said. "The good thing I don't have to sit back and watch anymore. I can go out and play now."