Chargers Place Merriman on Injured Reserve and Are Ready to Release Him

Technically, the Chargers could re-sign him. That almost certainly will not happen because General Manager A. J. Smith has had a contentious relationship with Merriman and his agents.

Drafted in 2005, Merriman had 39 ½ sacks in his first three seasons. Because of a variety of injuries, he has had only four in the three seasons since.

He was suspended for four games in 2006 after testing positive for steroids.

He also brought unwanted attention off the field. He was arrested just before the 2009 season after Tila Tequila, the reality television star, accused him of battery and at his suburban San Diego home. No charges were filed, and Merriman and Tequila settled dueling lawsuits.

After sitting out most of this year’s off-season workouts and part of training camp to protest his contract status, he was slowed by an Achilles’ injury and then a calf injury. He had only five tackles and no sacks in limited action.

A publicist released a statement in which Merriman was quoted as saying: “I am approaching this situation as an opportunity to grow as a player and to bring my leadership and talents to a new organization.”

FAVRE BOTHERED BY ELBOW quarterback , who has started a record 289 straight games, said he would consider sitting out a game or two this season if the tendinitis in his right elbow got worse. Favre, 41, did not practice Wednesday.

CHANCE VICK COULD PLAY Coach Andy Reid said he had not ruled out quarterback , recovering from a rib cartilage injury, from Sunday’s game against Vick’s old team, the Atlanta Falcons. Kevin Kolb is expected to start, but Reid said that Vick could return to practice by the end of the week. If that does not happen, Vick will miss his second game.

CUTLER COMING BACK Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said he expected to start Sunday against the after missing a game because of a concussion. Cutler said doctors “wanted to make completely sure” he was ready before clearing him Monday. He said that he felt good enough to play against Carolina last Sunday but that extra precaution was taken.

KIPER RESPONDS TO CLAIMS Mel Kiper Jr., a college football analyst for , defended himself after an article in Sports Illustrated accused him of helping a sports agent win college football players as clients.

Kiper is an influential voice during the draft, offering fans his impressions on how high players will be chosen, and by which teams.

In the article, a former agent, Josh Luchs, said that Kiper worked with another agent, Gary Wichard. One passage described how Wichard asked Kiper to call him while he was trying to recruit a player to give the impression that the agent had deep connections in the news media.

“In the agent business, people know Gary and Mel are close, and some people suspect that Mel ranks players more favorably if they are Gary’s clients,” Luchs wrote.

Kiper defended his reputation.

“Conversations with players, which are occasionally facilitated by agents, are a valuable way to get to know the players,” Kiper said in a statement. “These conversations have never compromised my integrity, and my 32-year record supports that.”

ESPN ended its own investigation into the matter after Kiper issued his statement. KEN BELSON

GIANTS’ KIWANUKA RECOVERING Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who missed the last two games with a bulging disk in his neck, rode a stationary bike in practice and did agility drills on the sideline. Although surgery has not been ruled out, he spoke optimistically about returning this season.

Center Shaun O’Hara, who missed the last three games with a left ankle injury, participated in individual drills and hoped to practice Thursday and play Sunday.

“It’s taken longer than I would have liked,” O’Hara said. “I’m pushing.” MARK VIERA

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