Bills' Nix felt Merriman didn't play better than the youth
Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- The Bills let Shawne Merriman go Monday morning to the surprise of some. Merriman was up against Kyle Moore and Robert Eddins and just didn’t play as well during camp and in the two preseason games. GM Buddy Nix said, “Shawne was battling for the fourth defensive end spot. We think we’ve got three guys there that we feel good about plus we’ve got a couple of young guys and that’s the reason we made the move.” Nix went on to say, “The why now is a couple of things. One, we want to give these two young guys more reps in practice, more playing time in these last two games and we wanted to give Shawne a chance to get a job, so doing it earlier gives him a better chance to get picked up.”
Merriman’s snaps went down as practice went on. Nix said, “I think he struggled a little, but he can play, he did everything, he’s been healthy since OTA’s, he hadn’t missed anything, he’s very attentive in meetings, he’s worked hard in practice and he’s played in spots really good during the games so he’s a hard worker. He’s done everything he could do. We think we’ve been patient, but it comes a point where we felt like we needed to move on and look down the road, so these young guys will get a shot.”
Nix was with Merriman in San Diego so is cutting him even harder? You know, this is a tough time of year for us anyway. It was tough with Shawne but it’s tough with all of ‘em. You shatter a guy’s dreams at times and that’s not easy.”
Merriman had a sore hamstring a week or two ago, but Nix said that wasn’t it, “That didn’t enter into it. He hadn’t been ... the only thing he had was a little fatigue and needed to rest. It wasn’t anything injury-wise.”
Nix was asked if Merriman could get back to his Pro Bowl form. He said, “Maybe he can. I don’t think any of us know that but I think the main thing is time’s a factor with us. We need to move on and we need to look past this week, we need to look further down the road. Again, we’ve got two good guys that are young or a couple of ‘em that fit the scheme.”
After Monday's practice Chan Gailey said, "He was doing a good job. He was, but it just wasn’t where we thought he needed to be. As far as the other guys that were playing the position and we’ve got a couple young guys we wanted to get some reps and get some playing time. You’ve got to do that sometimes."
Merriman was kind of an experiment to see if the Bills could get him to where he was as a Charger. Gailey was not disappointed though, "No. I’m gonna tell you he did a great job of fighting back from where he was. He did an outstanding job of that. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. It would have been easy to bail. It really would have and he probably will go help somebody this year. I think he’d rather be in a 3-4. I think he would. So hopefully that’ll work out for him."
NIck Barnett has been close with Merriman since joining the Bills last year. The OLB said, "It's definitely disappointing to see him go, but it’s part of the business, you have to expect some good players are going to be let go with all the depth we had at that position, but I would’ve liked to have seen him stay and do what I thought he was going to do this year, but I’m sure he’ll have another opportunity with another team .”
As far as the role Merriman played in Barnett becoming a Bills after he was cut by the Packers Barnett said, “He definitely was instrumental. You want to go to a team where you’ve got some players with a lot of talent and potential. Looking at the roster and seeing him and Kyle and Kelsay, I definitely thought we were going to have a good defense and it’s shaping out to be that way, but it is what it is and it comes down to where you’re going to fit best as a player and he was instrumental in bringing me here, but I wish him all the best of luck.”