It’s Time to Shine for Bolts’ Melvin Ingram

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Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Giants running back Andre Brown (35) fumbles the ball as he is tackled by San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) during second quarter action at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers recovered the fumble. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Two years have gone by since the San Diego Chargers selected Melvin Ingram with its first-round pick. After finishing his senior year in South Carolina with 10 sacks and two interceptions, there was hope Ingram would bring his pass-rush expertise to the Chargers. But the simple fact remains: the inability to get pressure on the quarterback is still a pressing need.

Pressure by defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes have been the only thing going for the Chargers, as the team’s linebackers have yet to show up. Between Reggie Walker, Jarret Johnson, Thomas Keiser, Larry English, Donald Butler, Tourek Williams, Manti Te’o, Dwight Freeney (injured) and Ingram (injured), they combined for 15.5 sacks in 2013. Nine linebackers, 15.5 total sacks..not exactly your cup of tea.

Per Pro Football Focus, the Chargers blitzed 32.29 percent of the time in 2013, which was No. 13 in the NFL. However, San Diego was second-worst in the league in terms of production on recorded blitzes, with 16 sacks, 21 hurries and 49 hits on the quarterback on a total of 226 dropbacks. – Eric Williams, ESPN

Ready to take over?

Many were hoping the 18th overall pick would become the Chargers’ next feared pass rusher ever since the lights were shut out on Shawne Merriman. Ingram played in all 16 games with two starts in his rookie campaign, showing off some talent with 18 quarterback pressures, tied for second-most on the team. In 2013, Ingram suffered a torn ACL in May after being pegged to have a “breakout year.” He made a miraculous comeback, making his way back onto the field by Week 14.

Ingram did come in with questions on whether his “short arms” would stop him from being a premier pass rusher. There is an answer for those critics: Kansas City Chiefs Tamba Hali. Hali’s arms are a fraction of an inch shorter than Ingram’s, but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up 73.5 sacks.

“His closing speed and correctness is another excellent adaptive trait, and it makes up for that that Ingram will miss running backs out of his perimeter that longer defenders will be able to take down.” – Doug Farrar, Yahoo! Sports

The downside: Ingram has totaled two sacks over two seasons. Regardless of numbers, Ingram brings a positive presence and a boat-load of potential, but potential needs to turn into results. Even though Ingram played in 57-of-81 snaps during the Chargers playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he proved to be a hassle against a solid offensive line. He also picked off Andy Dalton towards the end of the game, ridding any hope of a Bengals comeback victory. While many seem impatient with Ingram’s progress, 2014 will be his year.