It was an inauspicious start for Shawne Merriman in his first practice with the Bills Wednesday. Less than 15 minutes into his first team practice at One Bills Drive, the veteran linebacker pulled up with a right lower leg injury.
"Shawne put 10 pounds (of pads) on his body and went out there and had a little strain and we didn't want to chance anything," said head coach Chan Gailey. "So we're getting it checked out completely and we'll see what happens from there, but it wasn't anything major."
Gailey was hopeful if Merriman was truly back to full health that he could make an impact for the Bills lagging pass rush. Though he would not commit to him being in Sunday's lineup earlier in the day when he initially addressed the media, he did make it clear he'd prefer to have him on the field sooner rather than later.
At the same time Gailey also sounded as though he knew minor setbacks could crop up knowing Merriman was not yet in football shape coming off of San Diego's injured reserve list.
"What happens is everyone gets their expectations so high," he said. "You've got to realize he hasn't played a lot of football and hasn't had pads on in a while. All of that stuff. We want him out there, but he's not quite ready. We're not going to put him out there until he's ready. That's the number one thing. We're not going to put him out there until he's ready."
Gailey admitted that Merriman's chances of playing this weekend are not looking good following the injury, especially with limited knowledge of Buffalo's defensive system.
"His chances go down tremendously," he said. "They do."
Merriman struggled to get on the field earlier this season in San Diego as he battled left calf and right Achilles injuries.
He missed the Chargers season opener due to the strained Achilles suffered in the preseason. Merriman also missed half of San Diego's game the following week against Jacksonville.
He then played just three snaps in San Diego's Week 3 game at Seattle before succumbing to a strained left calf, which also forced him to sit out the Chargers next game against Arizona.
After playing about 10 snaps against Oakland in Week 5, the Chargers placed him on injured reserve with a minor injury designation meaning he would have to be waived once he passed a physical.
Merriman passed San Diego's physical eight days ago leading to his release, and passed Buffalo's physical upon arrival last Friday after the Bills claimed him off waivers.