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Merriman placed on I.R.; will be cut when healthy

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By PFW staff

The Chargers have placed OLB Shawne Merriman (calf) on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation, the team announced Wednesday, meaning the three-time Pro Bowler must be released when healthy.

After dealing with a sore Achilles early in the season, Merriman injured his calf in San Diego's Week Three loss to the Seahawks. He sat out Week Four, then played sparingly in the Chargers' 35-27 loss to the Raiders last week before re-aggravating the injury.

San Diego signed recently released DE Antwan Barnes to fill Merriman's roster spot. Barnes had three tackles in the Eagles' season opener before being released by Philly on Oct. 10.

Merriman released the following statement on Wednesday:

"I have been blessed to call San Diego my home for the past six years. I can't say enough about my teammates, the coaching staff and of course the fans who have made my career with the Chargers such an amazing experience. I am approaching this situation as an opportunity to grow as a player and to bring my leadership and talents to a new organization. I am ready for the next chapter in my career and I am excited about the opportunity to continue my journey with a new team."

The way we see it

The writing had been on the wall for a move like this, as Merriman has never been the same player since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery early in the 2008 season. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year, who recorded 39½ sacks from 2005-07 and had a career-high 17 sacks in '06 — the same season he served a four-game suspension for steroid use — has been largely ineffective since returning from injury in '09, notching four sacks in 14 games last season and zero in ’10.

Formerly a beast to contain on the field, Merriman has been a shell of his former self the past two seasons, constantly dealing with nagging injuries that always had him at less than full strength. He also hasn't been a favorite of Chargers GM A.J. Smith, who didn't like the linebacker's numerous off-field endeavors, believing they were distractions. Add it up, and it was time for San Diego to move on.

Still only 26 years old, Merriman is likely to catch on somewhere when the Bolts officially release him, though it almost definitely will be a short-term deal. He has yet to put together a 16-game season in his six-year career.

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