Merriman thrilled to be playing anywhere

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Shawne Merriman said all the right things.

Three days after the Buffalo Bills claimed Merriman off the waiver wire, the former San Diego Chargers star finally joined his teammates and met with reporters Saturday afternoon at the team's facility.

He comes to the Bills as a highly decorated outside linebacker with a reputation for being injury prone, selfish and too distracted by Hollywood's nearby glitter and the seductive celebrity lifestyle.

Merriman knew for weeks he would be waived, giving him time to imagine how he would look in 31 other helmets. His reaction to being chosen by the Bills?

"That I have a helmet," Merriman replied. "As long as that happened, I was good."

With his personal publicist in tow, Merriman came off as humble and appreciative of another chance to play. Merriman insisted he's all about playing football for Buffalo.

To paraphrase, the superstar known as "Lights Out" said he doesn't care if Western New York has bright lights or not.

"There's nothing bright about putting on a helmet and playing football," Merriman said. "That's always been something that people say because L.A. wasn't too far from San Diego. Yeah, I have done some TV stuff, and I enjoy doing it. But, bottom line, I love playing football.

"Once people try to let that go and not forget that I'm going to put on that helmet, I'm going to go out and play 110 percent and lay it out on the line, it doesn't matter how bright the lights get."

The Bills were awarded Merriman because they have the NFL's worst record. The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also placed claims on him.

He's on a one-year contract, and unless the Bills put the franchise tag on him he'll be able to sign with another team in four months.

Merriman didn't say anything that would indicate he's using this opportunity to try out for other teams in the league, but that's essentially what the experience will mean for him. The reason the Chargers cut the three-time Pro Bowler was because they tired of his recurring injuries, contract squabbles and decreased productivity.

Merriman will get eight games at most in hopes of showing everybody he's still a defensive force and a good teammate. He won't play Sunday, when the Bills play the Chicago Bears in Toronto -- a missed opportunity to generate some attractive game film against the NFL's worst pass-protecting team.

Merriman notched 39.5 sacks through his first three seasons, but only four sacks in 18 games since the end of 2007. A ripped up left knee has been his nemesis. He has dealt with calf and Achilles injuries this year.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can to gain a team's trust ... and not walk in as a guy with Pro Bowls and All-Pros and earn these guys' respect by working," Merriman said.

"I'm ready to play no matter where I'm at."