Melvin Ingram can sense it when he's on the field.
The outside linebacker glances across the line of scrimmage into the eyes of would-be blockers and can tell they're scared.
He's given them reason to be.
In his fifth season, the 27-year old is emerging as one of the game's top pass rushers and is a major reason why the Chargers defense continues to ascend. In the midst of a Pro Bowl caliber campaign, Ingram leads the Bolts in sacks (5.0) and pressures (22) while ranking second in QB hits (nine). He's also tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and ranks fourth with 37 total tackles.
There is reason to believe the best is yet to come.
"I just get stronger each week," he said. "I've always been taught it's not how you start; it's how you finish. That goes for me and the team."
After transforming his body, Ingram believes he is a second half player who gets stronger as the season progresses. Last year proves that point as number 54 posted nine of his 10.5 sacks in the final eight games, including one in each of the last five contests.
"Melvin keeps developing every day into an even better player," Defensive Coordinator John Pagano said. "He's to be commended for it. The older you get in this league, the better you become. He's a captain now. He's become a leader not only by his play but by being vocal. What he's done is a testament to how he changed his body to where he is now."
Perhaps most notable, Ingram has formed one half of one of the league's top defensive tandems over the past month.
He and Joey Bosa have given the Chargers a dynamic one-two punch in the passing game as the pair has terrorized opposing quarterbacks. While Ingram leads the team in sacks and pressures, Bosa is close behind with 4.0 and 16. The rookie also leads the club with 11 QB hits despite playing in only half the team's games.
"It's awesome being able to line up next to him," Bosa said. "To have a playmaker like that across from you, it changes my game. Teams have to game plan for him as much as me, so I'm not the only guy taking on the double teams. He gets stuck with it, too!"
"Having him here, it means a lot," Ingram added. "It's fun with him out there. It's fun having someone who loves the game as much as you and wants to rush the passer. When you have someone out there over there, the sky's the limit. I love it when we are on the field together. We complement each other."
While Bosa gets a lot of publicity, Ingram tends to fly under the radar. Does that bother the Bolts' defensive captain?
"Nah," he simply said. "At the end of the day, everybody on our schedule has to come through here and see me. They will see me. So it is what it is. I've been playing with the same confidence because I know what I can do. I just go out there and grind. The coaches put a lot on my plate and I'm expected to do a lot. I love doing a lot. I love playing football. This game has slowed down a lot for me, and I am seeing so much."