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Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Johnson, Merriman out from OTAs

By James Walker

The Buffalo Bills opened organized team activities Tuesday without two big names: receiver Steve Johnson and linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Johnson did some work on the side but is not expected to practice in most of the voluntary offseason program following groin surgery, said Bills coach Chan Gailey. Merriman was not medically cleared to practice after a season-ending Achilles injury. However, Merriman tweeted he was cleared to join his teammates for the first time on Wednesday.

Both Johnson and Merriman will be worth monitoring this offseason but for different reasons. Johnson will eventually be 100 percent and ready to resume his role at Buffalo's No. 1 receiver. He is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and recently signed a contract extension.

Merriman, meanwhile, is more of a wild card. He's had two season-ending Achilles injuries and didn't have nearly the same explosiveness in 2011 that he showed in previous years. Buffalo hopes surgery will correct Merriman's injury. But anything the Bills get out of the former three-time Pro Bowl linebacker this year is considered a bonus.