The favorite in the AFC West could be without one of its top defensive players in the season opener. Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman won't play in Thursday night's preseason finale, and there is no guarantee he will be ready for the season opener in Kansas City on Sept. 13.
Merriman has an Achilles tendon injury and wants to be at full health before he takes the field. "There's no way you can just jump back in and go," he said on Tuesday.
The three-time Pro Bowler missed more than two weeks of training camp in protest of his status as a restricted free agent without being offered a long-term contract, and the injury has kept him out roughly the same amount of practice time.
"It's less than ideal, but it's more important to be ready when everybody needs you," Merriman said.
The linebackers are the strength of the Chargers' defense with OLB Shaun Phillips opposite Merriman. Second-year OLB Larry English started two games in 2009 and is Merriman's backup.
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