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Could Shawne Merriman help the Ravens? Ray Lewis thinks so

It's unclear exactly how interested the Ravens are in former San Diego Chargers linebacker (and Maryland Terrapin) Shawne Merriman, who was placed on waivers this week. Coach John Harbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday night that he and general manager Ozzie Newsome had a long conversation about Merriman, and might be interested in bringing him in if he clears waivers today.

But Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis -- who has been a friend and mentor to Merriman throughout his career -- said he's been in regular contact with Merriman, and believes he still has a lot of quality football left in him, despite a series of injuries.

"I spoke to Shawne last night," Lewis said. "I speak to Shawne a lot. It's always a tough situation any time you find yourself in the situation that he's in. But I think this gives him an opportunity. It gives him an opportunity to hopefully go to a team that can really use his talents, and show what he can do, and that's get after the quarterback."

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Lewis would like to see Merriman in a Ravens uniform, but he understands there are a lot of teams ahead of the Ravens in line who could still put in a waiver claim on him.

"It's a long list that I didn't know about that he has to go through before we can make any move," Lewis said. "It's kind of hard to say 'Would I want him here?' Well, of course I want him here. But the list in long and we just have to wait it out and see what happens."

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One advantage the Ravens may have, if Merriman does clear waivers, is his relationship with Lewis. Lewis began counseling and mentoring Merriman while he was still at the University of Maryland, before he was drafted by the Chargers in 2005.

"Just having conversations with him, I think his thing is just getting back on the field and having fun," Lewis said. "That's kind of what I've been preaching to him. Don't worry about anything else. Just do what you do best and what you've been doing since you were a child. That's what he's truly been reflecting upon, and just getting back on the field, and establishing himself as that presence again."

From 2005 to 2007, Merriman had 39.5 sacks, the most in the NFL during that three-season time period. But he missed almost all of the 2008 season with a knee injury, and was limited last year by injuries to his foot and knees, and had only four sacks. The Chargers used a franchise tag on him, but placed him on injured reserve Oct. 13 with an injured calf. Any team that claims Merriman would have to pay him the reminder of his $3.268 million salary this season.

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