Chargers’ LB Shawne Merriman out for season

Shawne Merriman has decided to pull the plug on the 2008 season and opt for surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his knee. He’ll miss the remainder of the season.

The loss of Merriman, whose hard hits earned him the nickname “Lights Out,” is a big one for a team that has Super Bowl expectations.

“Shawne informed me he did not feel right and thought it best to shut it down,” Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement. “The road to winning the AFC West just got more difficult, but not impossible. Nothing is impossible. Shawne is a great player and an inspirational leader. He will be missed. We wish him a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.”

I’m no doctor but this had to be the right decision all along. Merriman was risking his career by playing on his damaged knee, a knee that four doctors advised him he had to have surgery on. Now he can have the surgery, go through the proper rehab steps and get back on the field again when he’s ready.

Obviously this is a huge blow for the Chargers. Merriman provides a great edge rush and he often disrupts opposing teams’ rhythm by getting pressure on the quarterback and in the backfield. It’ll be interesting to see if San Diego can bounce back from their last-second loss to the Panthers with a trip to division rival Denver this week.

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