At first it was alright to go with the old standby of ‘woe is me’ when discussing outside linebacker Melvin Ingram’s torn ACL on Tuesday in minicamp, but now the search for a replacement at outside linebacker is on. Even though they will be without their first round pick from a year ago, the San Diego Chargers will still play 16 NFL regular season games in 2013 and will require a pass rush to do so successfully. Let’s examine some possibilities for the team when it comes to replacing his potential production.
CURRENT DEPTH CHART
Things are rather depressing on this front to be frank. The Bolts have veteran Jarrett Johnson and former first rounder Larry English as the two slated to start after Ingram’s injury, but neither inspires much confidence. Behind them is Devan Walker as well as rookies Tourek Williams and Frank Beltre, but I’m not banking on any of them providing much in 2013.
Perhaps Jonas Mouton or Andrew Gachkar could line up outside, but that’s a stretch as well. With D.J. Smith claimed off of waivers to help out inside whenever his torn ACL from last fall is completely healed, the Bolts are set inside with him and Donald Butler. That could open the door for experimentation.
Speaking of experimentation, perhaps defensive coordinator John Pagano will mix up his formations and run some hybrid defenses this year out of necessity. English may be able to benefit from lining up with his hand in the dirt harkening back to his collegiate days while Corey Liuget could easily kick inside to tackle with Kendall Reyes playing edge rusher at defensive end. Stranger things have happened.
What remains the popular opinion among most fans and pundits is bringing in an experienced veteran like John Abraham or Dwight Freeney to replace Ingram on the depth chart. I remain skeptical after Freeney saw his worst season ever in the 3-4 alignment last year when the Indianapolis Colts switched over, and Abraham would surely have quite an adjustment period as well. This seems like some wishing as well unless the team combines the hybrid approach with one of these signings to make a perfect match.
One thing is for sure; the Chargers are going to have to be creative now that Ingram is out. Pagano has no difficulty doing that, and this team should still be able to fly after the football with several young playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. It may not be ideal, but the Bolts will persevere nonetheless.