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Merriman hit block at border; Customs searched his bags before camp

Buffalo Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman on Thursday acknowledged he was stopped at the border coming from Canada before training camp but said there was no problem with the crossing.

"No problem," Merriman said. "I came across as I normally do. I go there to get some massage therapy work done. They just questioned me about some bags and stuff I had. I was stopped and that was it. I was coming to camp. I had suitcases and stuff like that. They just wanted to go through all my stuff."

Asked if anything was confiscated from his possession, Merriman said, "No, un-uh. I had stuff coming to camp. They went through all my suitcases and that was it."

Rumors about Merriman being stopped at the border, and having some containers confiscated, have been circulating among some Buffalo governmental offices for weeks and hit the Internet on Wednesday.

However, government officials said Thursday there was nothing to report on the matter.

"We have not been presented with any matter for prosecution involving Shawne Merriman or anyone else on the Buffalo Bills," said James P. Kennedy, first assistant in the U.S. Attorney's office in Buffalo. Kennedy said he was not even aware that Merriman had been stopped at the border.

Thomas Russert of the U.S. Border Patrol in Buffalo said his office had no information to release. Russert said unless an individual was arrested or charged criminally, his office would not be able to discuss any border matter, under privacy regulations.

Merriman acknowledged he had been asked about the border stop last week as well.

The Bills are counting on Merriman to be a big part of their defense this season, and he is looking to revive his career.

Merriman has been injured most of the past three seasons. He recorded 39.5 quarterback sacks in his first three seasons in the NFL. That was despite the fact he missed the first four games of the 2006 season due to an NFL suspension for testing positive for steroids. Merriman blamed the positive test on a tainted supplement.

Merriman has looked very good in training camp and had two sacks in the Bills' first preseason game in Chicago last week. He has missed the past several days of practice with a minor leg injury.

Bills coach Chan Gailey said Thursday that Merriman would be held out of Saturday's preseason game in Denver due to a sore leg.

"He won't play this week," said Gailey of Merriman. "We made the decision that he will not play. We'll let him get back to close to full speed and hopefully get him back next week."

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com