Many thought that the return of outside linebacker Melvin Ingram would be a real possibility if the San Diego Chargers remained a serious contender for the AFC Playoffs was December 12 rolled around. That date is significant because it marks the time when the Bolts would have to move Ingram to the active roster after placing him on the injured reserve/designated to return list following a torn ACL in May minicamp. Even though the playoffs may seem like a pipe dream at this point to the slumping Bolts, adding a boost to their pass rush may soon become a reality.
Sources have reported that Ingram is likely to return to practice this week with the team which only further amplifies that expectation of him getting back to game action soon. San Diego’s pass rush has been abysmal since the season ending injury to Dwight Freeney basically forced them to rely on sixth round rookie Tourek Williams and former practice squad fixture Thomas Keiser for push off the edge. Getting Ingram back into the mix would aid a struggling secondary as well by forcing them to cover for shorter periods of time and making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable.
Head coach Mike McCoy wasn’t very forthcoming with the team’s exact plans on when the 2012 first round pick will get back in the mix, but he did offer some thoughts on the process to ESPN saying:
“We’ll look at obviously the best interest of Melvin and the health of his knee. And understand what we want to do moving forward with him. And we have a plan in place. We’ll let you know that as soon as we want to let everybody know.”
The December 12 date mentioned above just happens to coincide with a game that could have potentially had a little more meaning had the Chargers not gone on a three-game skid of late. That Week 15 meeting with the Denver Broncos could still hold some weight since the Bolts are technically just a game out in the wild card chase, but their brutal schedule down the stretch could also prevent the tilt from having much meaning at all.
If that is the case it would be wise for San Diego to hold off on putting Ingram back out there and just allow him to rehab with the natural timetable in order to prepare for next season. There is nothing to gain from a few weeks of practice and three potentially meaningless games at the end of December if San Diego sits at 4-9 or even 5-8 at that point. Nine wins will likely be a necessity to even have hopes of the postseason, and if that’s out of reach the team would be better off keeping Ingram on the shelf until 2014.