Expecting the San Diego Chargers to be serious contenders this season given the mountain of injuries the team has faced seemed like a losing proposition at the year’s onset. The rebuilding Bolts with a new power structure from general manager Tom Telesco to head coach Mike McCoy had enough to worry about just fielding a competitive team with the litany of injured players before Week 1 even arrived, but that’s why they play the games. Now that the Chargers are competitive, perhaps one of those long-lost injured stars could stage a valiant comeback to the gridiron yet this season.
Of course the player I’m referring to is outside linebacker and pass rusher Melvin Ingram who was lost in May to a torn ACL during minicamp. Telesco and company did a nice job of finding pieces to keep the Bolts formidable in the pass rush department, but with the veteran Dwight Freeney – who was signed to replace Ingram back in May – on injured reserve, the group could use as shot in the arm.
This topic becomes relevant currently because the 4-3 Chargers are in the thick of the playoff race with the deadline to activate players placed on the injured reserve eligible to return list looming large in Week 11. Ingram has actually been eligible to return to practice since Week 7, but the Bolts have wisely been taking it slow with their prized second-year quarterback crusher. After that Week 11 mark, the Chargers have 21 days to place Ingram on the active roster meaning he could theoretically make his return as late as December 12. Conveniently that is the date of the Chargers’ tilt with the Denver Broncos which would be a full seven months post-surgery for Ingram.
Coach McCoy gave ESPN some thoughts on the linebacker’s eventual return to the field saying:
“He’ll be out there as soon as he is ready. I don’t want to put a timetable on it. That’s not fair to him. We have a plan for him and he is working extremely hard. He is chomping at the bit. He’s been that way since the day he was injured on the field.”
Currently the Chargers sit with 20 sacks on the season through seven games, and that total is relatively impressive considering the injury issues and lack of depth the team has at the outside linebacker position. The generally disappointing Larry English has proven at least semi-serviceable this season, and my personal breakout pick Thomas Keiser has shown a knack for getting to the quarterback since being added to the rotation.
Regardless, bringing back Ingram too soon could be catastrophic for the team considering he was the first round NFL Draft pick just a little over a year ago in 2012. The former South Carolina Gamecock will get back on the field when the medical staff deems him fit enough to return, and the Bolts should be patient. If everything works out well and the team is still in the thick of things come that December 12 date, adding Ingram to the lineup could provide a serious jolt for these motivated Chargers.