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With Melvin Ingram Out, Larry English Steps In
When Melvin Ingram was diagnosed with a torn ACL yesterday, it’s understandable to think that the San Diego Chargers locker room was distraught, but their confidence in the defense, and the linebacker corps in particular, remains high due to the presence of former first round pick Larry English.
“Thank God Larry’s here,” said Jarret Johnson, explaining the first thought that went into his head after learning the significance of Ingram’s injury. “The guy’s got experience and a ton of talent. He had a rough go with injuries early in his career which has kept him back, but the dude can outright play. If we didn’t have a veteran, high caliber player like Larry we’d really be hurting. There were times last year, especially in training camp when he had more of a chance to show it, he was basically unblockable. With the pass rushers we had last year it was hard for him to get on the field, so this is a clean start for Larry. It’s a great opportunity for him and he’s earned it. So thank God we have Larry English.”
Johnson wasn’t alone in his steadfast support of English’s ability to step in and contribute.
“Melvin is a tough loss obviously, but we’ve all got to step up,” said Donald Butler. “But Larry’s the guy who is going to step in at that position and he’ll hold it down. He’ll really be productive. I have a lot of confidence in Larry. He’s a guy who has been in the system for a while, is active in getting after the quarterback and I think he’s really going to do big things for us.”
According to English, Head Coach Mike McCoy addressed the team today and said the opportunity is there for someone to fill the void Ingram leaves behind. English is determined to be that guy.
“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, but there is going to be a lot expected of me, and I expect a lot out of myself,” he said. “I’m just concentrating on being able to provide what the team needs. Coach McCoy emphasized to all of us that now is the time for someone to step up and provide what we’ll miss from Melvin, and I have that opportunity now to be the guy the team needs.”
English has appeared in just 43 games over his first four seasons, missing the majority of his second and third year due to a myriad of injuries. To date, he’s recorded 50 tackles and 8.5 sacks, but now he has the chance to prove he is capable of much more.
“I have high expectations of myself to be a playmaker,” said English. “I want to pressure the quarterback and exploit the defense. I’ll do whatever it takes to be whatever it is the team needs me to be.”
Still, just because English and his teammates believe he can step up in Ingram’s place, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel awful about the situation.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’ll miss Melvin,” said Johnson. “His temperament and his attitude are phenomenal and we were predicting a huge year for him. We feel bad for him to have this happen, especially in an OTA.”
While it is unknown how much time he’ll miss, there is every indication that Ingram will come back as strong as ever. Just ask second year safety Brandon Taylor, who tore his ACL late last season and is well on his way to rehab.
“He’s in for an aggravating process, because you see everyone working and you want to be out there with them,” said Taylor. “But at the same time, it’s not that much of a big deal as it used to be because of the rehab they put us through. The ACL is not that big of a problem. It’s like coming back as good as new.”
Certainly the Chargers hope that’s the case for Ingram. But until he does come back, the team is confident English can hold down the fort.