Merrick happy for the opportunity to compete

San Diego has one of the deepest rosters in the league, yet continues to be an attractive landing spot for undrafted free agents. The reason for this can be explained in one word: opportunity. The Chargers are willing to give all rookies a legitimate look, regardless of their draft status. That is what enticed Miguel Merrick to come to San Diego, where he will compete for a reserve safety spot.

Miguel Merrick (6-foot, 201 lbs.) was a full-time starter each of his final two seasons at Iowa. During that time, he rang up 141 tackles, four interceptions and 13 pass break-ups. He was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention following his senior year.

Although his career with the Chargers has just begun, Merrick likes what he has seen thus far.

"The Chargers are one of the best franchises in the league," he said. "The players and the coaches all seem really energetic, which is important. Plus, the veteran guys have been helping me out a lot. A lot of them have been in my situation before, so they're willing to show me the ropes."

Indeed, the Chargers have been built through the ranks of the undrafted. At the end of the 2006 season, 16 of the team's 53 players came into the league as undrafted free agents. That is what convinced Merrick that he would get a fair shake in San Diego.

"The Chargers have proven that they will give undrafted guys a chance to play. All you can ask for is that opportunity," he said.

Merrick is confident that he has the skills to cash in on that opportunity. He has the versatility to play both safety positions and enjoys how the two spots are interchangeable in San Diego's defense. Additionally, he plays the physical brand of football that Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell loves.

"I'm a run-stuffer first. I like to fill the lanes and deliver big hits, but I can provide the big plays when I have to," Merrick said.

Merrick is the first to admit that, although he was a playmaker in college, he has yet to prove those skills can translate to the pro level. He will spend his time between now and the start of training camp fine-tuning his game to help make that jump as seamless as possible.

"The most important thing for me is studying the playbook," he said. "As a safety, I have to be the quarterback of the defense. Also, I need to make sure I have my footwork and my alignments right."

If he is successful in his preparations, he will have a real shot to make the team. That may mean he starts on the practice squad, or it may mean he is the last guy off the bench. Although that may not seem like much, to Merrick it is all he can ask for.

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