Shawne Merriman boosts Buffalo's hopes

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Shawne Merriman didn't report to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. A team spokesman said he's not sure if Merriman will report Friday either, saying the team is taking it "day by day."

Merriman does have a locker stall ready for him at One Bills Drive. It's right next to middle linebacker Paul Posluszny's and is stocked with team-issued gear with the tags still affixed.

Merriman has five days to report after the winless Bills snagged him off the waiver wire Wednesday. He's not expected to play in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears in Toronto, but a source close to Merriman told me the Pro Bowl pass-rusher will show up eventually.

His new teammates are eager to meet him.

"We're excited to get him here, get him acclimated to our system and our way of doing things and get him on the field," Posluszny said.

The acquisition is a boost to Buffalo in many ways. Unless Merriman is out of shape, he becomes their best pass-rusher the moment he arrives.

The Bills are 0-7 and starving for a victory. I asked Posluszny if Merriman would have made the difference in either of their back-to-back overtime losses.

"I think so because he's a big playmaker," Posluszny said. "Any time you can bring in a guy like that who can get to the quarterback, make some things happen, he can change a game.

"The pressure he puts on a quarterback, all of a sudden that quarterback is throwing off his back foot, uncomfortable. Then we have the secondary that makes the plays that've been missing for us. It could be huge for us."

The decision to bring Merriman aboard also is symbolic. It sends a message to the organization and its fans that the Bills are not going down without a fight.

Over the past several weeks, their most notable transactions were dumping players such as quarterback Trent Edwards, running back Marshawn Lynch and linebacker Kawika Mitchell.

"It instantly upgrades you and makes you feel 'We are moving in the right direction,'" Bills safety Donte Whitner said. "It feels good that we're bringing guys in now instead of shipping them out.

"A lot of people said, 'Aw, the Bills will never pick him up.' But it's the right guy for the right scheme and the right reasons. You can't just bring guys in because of their name. You bring guys in because it's definitely a team need, and that position definitely is a team need for us."