The Pittsburgh Steelers signed edge rusher Melvin Ingram nearly one month ago. Since then we’ve been able to watch the 10th year pro take reps at Steelers training camp, and by the eye test Ingram appears to be healthier than he has been in the past two seasons in Los Angeles. Not only that but Ingram has been taking all the Steelers first team reps due to T.J. Watt’s contract negotiation which has kept Watt out of all contact drills. Ingram has been very successful in Watt’s place and has caught the eye of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin who has been impressed with Ingram’s ability at stopping the run.
"Melvin is a run-game bully, so we want to get to know him today." - Coach Tomlin on challenging @MelvinIngram in the team meeting heading into today's practice— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 10, 2021
Once Watt’s contract is resolved however, Ingram will slide back to his third outside linebacker position. This isn't a knock on Ingram either, as we know how good T.J. Watt is and Alex Highsmith has been the stand-out performer of Steelers training camp. But what can Ingram do as the first guy off the bench in the same role we watched Alex Highsmith in a year ago?
Coach Tomlin said T.J. Watt not working is giving them more of a chance to see Melvin Ingram, who he referred to as a 'run game bully' and 'football lover.'— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 10, 2021
First and foremost, Melvin Ingram also has experience playing inside linebacker and I believe the Steelers will build a few defensive schemes which allows all three of their top edge rushers on the field at one time. I think we will see Ingram be a part of a lot of the Steelers crossed dog blitzes from the inside linebacker spot, and I also anticipate him spelling both Watt and Highsmith throughout games. Depending on the game plan, I think there will be days where Ingram plays upwards of 50% of the snaps, and that's without cutting into Watt or Highsmith’s usual total.
Assuming Watt and Highsmith are healthy and start every game of the 2021 season I think a reasonable stat line for Ingram reads as follows: 5 sacks, 40 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 2 passes defensed. This stat line would reflect an uptick from his injury shortened 2020 season, and virtually watching his 2019 season where Ingram was the starter but played through injury each week.
This kind of production for the third edge rusher spot on any team would be a welcome addition. Giving the Steelers this kind of flexibility would also keep the other edge rushers fresher and allow them to get fully rested on breaks before rushing them back out onto the field. The inclusion of Melvin Ingram on this roster will make the entire unit better, and give Ingram the exact type of role he needs to be his best for 17 weeks.
But what do you think? What kind of production do you expect from Melvin Ingram? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.