PFW football briefs covering news from Chargers, Panthers, Saints, Lions, Broncos and Colts.


The Way We Hear It   If you think the Chargers are going to step in and prevent injured LB Shawne Merriman from playing this season, think again. Although four specialists recommended that Merriman have season-ending surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee — both the posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments — the Pro Bowler has opted to forgo the procedure and play in 2008, despite the high likelihood of worsening the ligament damage. And the Chargers are fully behind Merriman in this decision. The way we hear it, the team wants to get all it can out of the linebacker during the next two seasons, as Merriman’s contract is up after ’09, and San Diego almost certainly won’t shell out the funds to re-sign him. The Chargers believe that as long as Merriman can be a productive player, he should be on the field, torn ligaments and all. And Merriman, being as passionate about the game as he is, does not want to let his teammates down by sitting out the season. To be fair, the Chargers reportedly advised Merriman to undergo the reconstructive surgery immediately after the end of last season, when it might have caused him to miss only part of this season, but Merriman decided against it. Now, however, don’t expect head coach Norv Turner or GM A.J. Smith, knowing their club should seriously contend this season, to plead with Merriman to follow the doctors’ advice and have surgery.   NFL Whispers   PANTHERS: Head coach John Fox has a history of playing veterans over young players in close position battles, as was the case last season when he started DeShaun Foster over DeAngelo Williams for the entire season, despite Foster’s struggles. Sources say this year, however, Fox seems to be loosening up a bit on that front and his track record may not apply in the battle for carries between Williams, a third-year veteran, and first-round rookie Jonathan Stewart.   SAINTS: Word out of New Orleans is that the Saints’ coaching staff still views Devery Henderson as a top-three receiver, and his main competition, Robert Meachem, who looked like he would surpass Henderson on the depth chart early in camp, may be having issues with consistency. The Saints trust Henderson more at this point and it will stay that way until Meachem corrects some of his route running and missed assignments.   LIONS: Don’t be alarmed or surprised that Lions first-round pick Gosder Cherilus has taken snaps at both OT spots. If anything, it shows the team is willing to give extra reps and looks to the rookie, who should overtake George Foster for the starting ORT spot. Cherilus perhaps has OLT starting potential down the line, but he’s slated for the right side as a rookie, barring a major injury to Jeff Backus.   The Fantasy Buzz   Broncos WR Brandon Marshall deserves a bump up your draft board after his three-game suspension was reduced this week to one game. Marshall appealed his suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy and won, meaning he’ll only miss the team’s opener against the Raiders. After playing well in the preseason, this news vaults the wideout back into the top 15 at his position.   After QB Peyton Manning (knee) successfully returned to practice this week, Colts coach Tony Dungy said he would be “shocked” if Manning doesn’t play in Week One. The Pro Bowl quarterback, just about a month removed from knee surgery, was able to practice without experiencing any swelling, a good sign in his recovery. It appears safe to draft Manning in the early rounds, as few fantasy QBs are more reliable.   For more NFL news and daily fantasy football advice, visit