Inside The Bills

OLBs come back from Achilles

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2011 – 7:54 pm

Shawne Merriman announced in a statement that he’s going to undergo surgery on his Achilles to prevent a seemingly inevitable rupture, knowing the chronic problems the tendon has given him the past two years. While the surgery is anything but minor, outside linebackers have not only returned to resume their NFL careers, they’ve excelled.

The two most notable examples are former Bills LB Takeo Spikes and former 49ers/Seahawks/Lions LB Julian Peterson. Both were wildly athletic much like Merriman prior to ruptured Achilles suffered in 2004 by Peterson at age 26, and in 2005 by Spikes at age 28 while with Buffalo.

Both returned and played the following season, but were not quite the explosive game breaking playmakers they were prior. Spikes eventually was traded to the Eagles, but lasted only one season in Philadelphia before moving on to San Fran in 2008 where his career saw a resurgence after moving to ILB in a 3-4 scheme.

Spikes posted 96 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles and a sack in 2008 at age 31. He had two more very productive seasons for the 49ers before he signed with San Diego this past offseason.

Peterson’s recovery was even quicker. After rupturing his Achilles in Week 5 of the 2004 season he returned and made 14 starts in 2005, but even he admitted he did not feel like the same player. Two years removed from surgery Peterson was back to being a playmaker logging 89 tackles, a career-high 10 sacks and an INT in 2006 and followed it up with  a 9.5 sack season in 2007.

For Merriman, who is undergoing surgery at age 27, the recovery for Peterson has to be an encouraging sign, and knowing that Merriman’s Achilles never ruptured perhaps might even improve his chances of again being the Pro Bowl pass rushing terror he once was.

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