Merriman weighs options after saying knee ligament is damaged

Updated: August 23, 2008, 2:02 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN DIEGO -- Linebacker Shawne Merriman, who has missed more than a week of Chargers practice because of a sore left knee, is in the process of trying to figure out when he'll be able to play this season -- if at all.

Merriman said Thursday night that he has ligament damage and is evaluating his options. The trouble is "a loose ligament and [I'm] waiting to get more info on what I need to do," Merriman said in an e-mail to the North County Times.

He also told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he tore the knee's posterior cruciate ligament.

"It's finding out what do I need to fix, what I need to do," Merriman told the Union-Tribune by phone. "If it's left up to me, I want to play football. I can't stand sitting out."

His official medical prognosis is not yet known, but he has visited noted sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews and may see two other doctors to weigh his options.

If the ligament is severely torn, he'll undergo season-ending knee surgery. If the tear isn't significant, Merriman could play through the pain and be ready for Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 7.

Merriman alluded to playing with pain since the end of last season. Surgery has crossed his mind.

A Pro Bowl player in each of his first three NFL seasons, the 24-year-old Merriman underwent surgery to repair cartilage damage five months ago but has had persistent pain in the knee during training camp. He last played in the Aug. 9 preseason opener against Dallas and has not practiced since then.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said Friday he is more concerned with having Merriman on the field for the playoffs than next month's regular-season opener.

"If a guy has a setback and it keeps him out of it for a week or two ... I don't know that anyone will remember that any player missed a week of practice or was dealing with an issue," Turner said Friday after practice.

San Diego would turn to Jyles Tucker if Merriman can't play, but Turner called that idea "way, way, way, way premature."

"We are going to do everything we can to create a situation where [Merriman] is not in pain and the leg gets some strength back," Turner said.

Merriman has an NFL-best 39½ sacks since 2005, when he entered the league.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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