Chargers' 2012 first-round pick Ingram out for season with torn ACL

Chargers' 2012 first-round pick Ingram tears ACL, out for season

5/15/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Chargers' 2012 first-round pick Ingram out for season with torn ACLWhen the San Diego Chargers decided to let rush linebacker Shaun Phillips leave via free agency, the hope was that his shoes could be filled by the player they drafted 18th overall in 2012. Phillips - who led the team with 9.5 sacks last season - has been the Chargers' best pass rusher ever since the demise of Shawne Merriman, but will now be suiting up for the division rival Denver Broncos.

After racking up 19.0 sacks during his final two years at South Carolina, Ingram was a highly touted prospect who was expected to make an impact as an edge rusher in the NFL. Despite a disappointing rookie campaign (1.0 sack, one forced fumble), the Chargers showed their faith in Ingram's potential by letting not only Phillips leave, but also allowing Antwan Barnes to sign with the New York Jets. Barnes led the Chargers with 11.0 sacks in 2011.

The Chargers now severely lack edge rushers, and may dip into the free agent market to address their need. Defensive end Dwight Freeney is visiting the Chargers on Wednesday, and is considered a very possible candidate to replace Ingram as the rush linebacker, in part due to GM Tom Telesco's history with Freeney while they were both with the Indianapolis Colts. However, Freeney struggled mightily in an attempt to transition from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker in 2012, registering the lowest sack total of his career (excluding his injury-plagued 2007 season). The Chargers employ a 3-4 base defense.

Another free agent option would John Abraham, who - despite playing primarily 4-3 end - would probably be better suited than Freeney to play 3-4 outside linebacker. Israel Idonije has also been mentioned as an option, though I don't see that working out. Idonije is a defensive end who often moves inside to defensive tackle on passing downs - it would be strange to sign him as a linebacker.

The Chargers are likely to bottle up the run once again this season (ranked 6th in run defense last year), but with a depleted core of pass rushers and questionable cornerbacks (Derek Cox is injury-prone, and I'm not even sure who will start on the other side), there's a good chance the Chargers get gashed through the air in 2013.
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