When it was revealed that Shawne Merriman's Achilles had flared up on him in practice late last week most feared the worst knowing the linebacker's history of Achilles problems. Missing Sunday's did little to quell those concerns, but on Monday Merriman assured that the issue is minor and he'll return to action in Week 8 against Washington.
"We definitely know what we're dealing with," said Merriman. "It wasn't unexpected what happened, it just didn't get completely healthy enough in time for the game. I'll be ready for after the bye week."
That news has to come as welcome relief to head coach Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator George Edwards. Buffalo was without three veteran starters in their front seven this past Sunday with Merriman, Chris Kelsay and Kyle Williams all out with injuries.
Gailey wasn't prepared to be quite as optimistic as Merriman, but it was only because he had yet to get a new report on Merriman's condition from the athletic training staff.
"We don't have the full evaluation in on Merriman right now since it happened so late in the week last week," he said. "Let's give him a couple of days rest and see how it feels later this coming week."
When told of Merriman's optimistic self-prognosis and asked if it was realistic Gailey uttered the following.
"Let's go with his (prognosis)."
Merriman has one sack on the season after his sack against Philadelphia in Week 5 was changed to a rush for zero yards by Michael Vick. His time on the field has been closely monitored. But the pass rushing linebacker stated that playing 16 games was the goal from the outset.
"I think (16 games) was realistic," he said. "It was more that it didn't calm down like it usually does. So we made the decision that it was best to rest it during the bye week and get it completely healthy. We knew we were going to have some type of troubles, little speed bumps going into the season with what I have. That was laid out on the table a long time ago. We're just dealing with it accordingly and I'll be ready for after the bye week."
Gailey is hopeful that his other veteran outside linebacker Chris Kelsay can make it back from a calf injury suffered against Cincinnati in time for the Washington game following the bye as well. He had a two to four week prognosis and is entering Week 3 of his rehab.
As much as Merriman wants to play he's committed to taking the proper steps that improve his chances of being available for every one of the last 10 games this season.
"It hurts to sit back and watch knowing that maybe I could've been some help or benefit out on the field," said Merriman. "I'm always going to want to play, but I have to do what's in the best interest of all of us. To go out there and something happens and not be around for longer… I have to be smart for the team and myself included."