The Pittsburgh Steelers are back to work, and with training camp practices underway both players and coaches were not just on the field, but in front of microphones. With in-person interviews taking place for the first time since 2019, Ben Roethlisberger, T.J. Watt and head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the media about the day and the team in general.
During Watt’s media session he was asked about the newest member of the Steelers outside linebacker (OLB) room, Melvin Ingram. Ingram, who played his entire career with the Chargers, is ready to extend his resume with the Steelers, and Watt is excited to see him in black and gold.
“I am excited,” Watt told reporters. “I worked with him during the Pro Bowl and I used to watch Chargers games when Derek [Watt] was playing in San Diego and Los Angeles. He’s just a player that has a lot of burst off the line of scrimmage. He’s got a phenomenal spin move and just seeing him in person, he is a colorful guy and I am excited to work with him.”
For Watt, his knowledge of Ingram is just one of the many reasons why he is highly anticipating Ingram, and how he can help the Steelers from both a talent and depth standpoint.
“I watched him a lot,” said Watt. “I was able to watch a lot of their games. He’s one of the premier rushers in the league and I’ve watched a lot of his film and we connected at the Pro Bowl two or three years ago. He’s a great guy and a great player. I am excited to have him here.
“I am excited to have more depth, have a guy like Melvin in our rotation, in our room. A guy that I’ve watched a lot of over the years. A guy that I can learn a lot from too. Excited to have more depth, excited for our team.”
Mike Tomlin was also asked about Ingram, and he made it a point to say how they watched him a lot during the scouting process when Ingram was coming out of college.
“We’ve seen him a lot over the years. Respectful of his body of work. But not only that, we were familiar with him in the draft. He’s one of those guys that fit the profile. We studied him and got to know him through the draft process. And usually those are the guys that we end up doubling back to and having an interest in when they’re available in in free agency. So it makes the process and easy one.” Tomlin said. “We also had the opportunity in ‘17 when we coached the Pro Bowl, we had him down in Orlando and really got to know him some in that setting as well. So we felt really comfortable that he’s going to be an easy fit as a man and as a player.”
Fans want to know how Ingram will fit into the system, and how the division of labor will be done heading into the preseason/regular season, but Tomlin understands it is the first day. Those decisions won’t be happening anytime soon.
“It’s really much too early. Right now we’re just teaching him and seeing how quickly he can learn and that’s probably going to dictate reps. What we don’t want to do is waste game reps on anyone. So his level of preparedness, his ability to execute detail, particularly the early stages of development, is going to determine how much he participates or when he participates.”
Ingram, who will wear jersey No. 8, will be a player to watch this preseason, but mainly for his ability to stay healthy. The main knock on Ingram over the past two seasons has been his inability to stay in the lineup. If, and that is a big if, Ingram can stay healthy he will not only compliment Watt well, but make the Steelers’ defense even better.
When you think of an already stout defense getting even better, it sure is tantalizing.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they roll through training camp and prepare for the 2021 regular season.