SAN DIEGO Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman appeared set to start Monday night when the AFC West champion San Diego Chargers host the Denver Broncos, after missing last week's game with a sprained left knee.
"I've been doing pretty much everything the whole week," Merriman said Saturday after practice. "I feel good, I'm moving around good and I'm expecting to play."
Merriman rested the knee during last week's win over the Lions, but said he was out of sorts watching instead of playing.
"It drove me nuts," said Merriman, who leads the team with 11 1/2 sacks and was recently named to his third Pro Bowl. "I didn't know what to do. But hopefully I won't be sitting this week because I've been practicing all week."
Merriman's one concession to his injury will be a knee brace.
"Sometimes it hampers my change of direct and it prevents me from doing certain things," he said, "but I'll be good."
Defensive end Luis Castillo (ankle) is also trying to get back on the field. He's been out since early November and has been shooting for Monday night for his return.
"I honestly have no idea," Castillo said about suiting up.
Coach Norv Turner said Castillo and running back Michael Turner (shoulder) will likely be game-day decisions. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jamal Williams (ankle) was added to the injury report on Saturday and is listed as questionable.
Quarterback Philip Rivers (knee) remains on track to start, although like Merriman, he will likely wear a protective brace.
JETS' COLES OUT FOR YEAR: The New York Jets placed wide receiver Laveranues Coles on injured reserve Saturday because of an ankle injury that has bothered him for several weeks.
Coles, known throughout his eight-year career for his toughness and ability to play through pain, suffered a high left ankle sprain early in the Jets' 19-16 overtime win against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18. He missed New York's game at Dallas four days later on Thanksgiving, but returned for the Jets' next game at Miami, where he had five catches for 69 yards.
Coles caught seven passes for 48 yards the following week against Cleveland but lasted just one play last Sunday at New England after aggravating the ankle the day before in a bizarre incident at the team hotel when the trainer's table fell on it while he was getting treatment.
Coles finished the season with 55 catches for 646 yards and six TDsSince injuring the ankle over a month ago, Coles has been limited at practice and noticeably hobbled. With the Jets (3-11) long out of the playoff picture, some suggested Coles should sit out the last two games to help the ankle heal and prevent further injury.
MARBURY FILES GRIEVANCE: Stephon Marbury has filed a grievance over the fine the New York Knicks gave him for missing a game in Phoenix last month.
Marbury believes he was given permission to miss the game and has asked the players' association to begin the grievance process, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The point guard left Phoenix before the Knicks' game Nov. 13 after clashing with Isiah Thomas when the coach was considering removing him from the starting lineup. Marbury returned to New York, and the Knicks fined him a one-game salary, which would cost more than $180,000.
Marbury has missed seven of the last 10 games following the death of his father on Dec. 2. It is not known if Marbury will play Sunday when the Knicks host the Los Angeles Lakers.
BYRNE DIES AT 87: Tommy Byrne, who fulfilled a boyhood dream by pitching for the New York Yankees and won a game during the 1955 World Series, has died. He was 87.
Byrne, who served two terms as Wake Forest mayor, died Thursday, his son John said Saturday. Tommy Byrne had congestive heart failure and was in declining health the last six weeks. He was surrounded by his family and priest when he died, his son added.
After two years at what was then Wake Forest College, Byrne signed with the Yankees in 1940. In his rookie year of 1943, he played in 11 games and had a 2-1 record.
Byrne eventually was traded to the St. Louis Browns and also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and the Washington Senators. He returned to the Yankees in 1954, and in 1955 pitched a complete-game victory in Game 2 of the World Series. But he was the loser in Game 7, 2-0 to Johnny Podres and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"His lifetime dream was to pitch for the New York Yankees," said John Byrne, who is mayor of Fuquay-Varina. He said that dream grew from the fact that his father was born in Baltimore, home of Babe Ruth. The two eventually met when Ruth appeared at an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium.