COSTA MESA, Calif. — With Joey Bosa out for the first nine games of the season due to a bruised left foot, one of the players who picked up the slack on defense for the Los Angeles Chargers was versatile defensive end Melvin Ingram.
Ingram has a modest seven sacks with a game remaining, but the 29-year-old defensive co-captain has managed to make an impact in other areas of the defense. Now in his seventh season, he’s drawing double-teams from opposing offenses — allowing other defensive linemen to get to the quarterback — and serving as a stout run defender.
“I think if Joey was in there he was would have had double-digit sacks for sure,” fellow defensive co-captain Brandon Mebane said of Ingram. “He would have at least had 11 or 12.”
The Chargers allowed 131 rushing yards a contest last season, second-worst in the league. This year, the Bolts have held teams to only 107 rushing yards per game, No. 9 overall in the NFL.
“He’s played very well,” Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “I know as a coaching staff we’ve asked our players to do some different things, different techniques maybe than they have in the past.
“He’s bought into it and done it, so he’s invaluable for us. All the things that we’ve asked him to do — he’s flipped sides on our defense, especially with the injury to Joey, you know. So he’s the ultimate team player, and playing at a high level.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ingram has played 395 snaps at left end, 323 snaps at right end, 75 snaps at defensive tackle and 17 snaps at linebacker. Ingram’s 815 defensive snaps ranks fourth on the team.
Ingram’s overall play is the reason he made the Pro Bowl for a second straight season. Though he’s had a strong season, and though the Chargers sit at 11-4 and have made it back to the postseason for the first time since 2013, Ingram wants more.
“It means the world, man,” Ingram said of being named to the Pro Bowl. “But we ain’t did nothing yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Ingram even received a carry as a fullback this year, though he failed to score from a yard out.
“I’ve been doing that stuff my whole career,” Ingram said of his versatility. “I’ve been moving around. “There’s always attention on me, so it wasn’t really any different.”
Injuries derailed the ultra-talented Ingram early in his career. But the South Carolina product has figured out how to be productive and stay on the field, not missing a game in four seasons.
Ingram is seventh in franchise history with 42 career sacks, and he’s developed into one of the most consistent players on a Chargers defense that’s peaking at the right time — heading into the postseason.
“He had to carry a load,” fellow defensive lineman Damion Square said. “We lost a vital piece to our defensive line, and no matter what anybody says, you’ve got to make up for that space. I think I was big in making up for that space, especially from a run defense standpoint.
“But I think we did a lot of exotic things on third down, getting Melvin in positions to get to the quarterback, and trying to get him out of positions where people could double him. Nothing against the other guys on the offensive line, but we didn’t have Joey Bosa on the other side. So people were doing a lot of crazy things to keep Melvin from getting to the quarterback.”
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News