Merriman heads to Miami with eye on playing in 2008

Shawne Merriman, on his way from San Diego to Miami for a final examination of his ailing knee, said he will do whatever he can to play this season.

"I can't imagine not playing football this year," Merriman said in an interview at the San Diego airport with ESPN.com's Bill Williamson. "I really can't. That's what this is all about. I want to see that I can play … I haven't made my decision yet, but I am going to do everything I can to play. That's what this is all about."

Merriman told reporters in San Diego on Saturday that he has a tear in his lateral collateral ligament as well as a grade-three tear of his posterior collateral ligament. He had doctors in Alabama, Minnesota and New York examine his knee last week.

"I have to go make this last trip and then get back with the team and figure it all out," Merriman said. "This is all about me playing. That's all I want to do."

Merriman told Williamson that he doesn't expect the injury to threaten his career. On Saturday, he told reporters in San Diego:
"It could be career-threatening if I did [play]. It's a possibility. That possibility is still open."

Merriman has been told reconstructive surgery would keep him out for the 2008 season. Another option is a less invasive surgery that would allow him to play at some point in the season.

"They've all said the same things about the injury," Merriman said last week. "[They're] kind of surprised that I've been playing with it up to this point."

The Chargers open the regular season Sept. 7 against the Carolina Panthers.

Bill Williamson blogs the AFC West for ESPN.com.