Merriman takes Defensive Rookie of the Year

Collecting 28 ½ of the 50 votes cast, San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman earned The Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Shawne Merriman began his career in a way that had many doubting whether he would make an impact. He skipped the off-season workouts when his agents held him out until he signed a contract for fear of injury. When he did sign, Merriman hurt his knee in the final exhibition game during a special teams play and wound up seeing spot duty before emerging as a starter on October 23 in Philadelphia.

From there, he never looked back.

Merriman went on to lead the Chargers in sacks with ten, the first rookie to ever lead the team, tying a rookie record set by Chris Mims in 1992.

He also recorded three multi-sack games, becoming the first rookie to have a multi-sack game since Sims.

"I am pretty aggressive in the way I play," said Merriman. "I want to play every down as if it is my last."

Nine of his sacks came after he was inserting into the starting lineup - a period of ten games.

"I told him that he surpassed my expectations," head coach Marty Schottenheimer confided. "He played extremely well. He is competitive, bright - I was pleasantly surprised."

Merriman is the first Chargers player to win the award.

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