San Diego Chargers defensive end/linebacker Melvin Ingram suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Tuesday afternoon, a huge blow to the team's offseason activities and one that could have far-reaching effects on the defense in 2013.
San Diego's official Twitter account confirmed the news:
Melvin Ingram sustained a torn ACL in his left knee during OTA practice today. No other information was released.— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) May 15, 2013
As I said on Total Access: Doctors fear #Chargers 2012 first rounder Melvin Ingram has suffered a torn ACL. Brutal.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 14, 2013
Ingram was the No. 18 overall pick of the Chargers in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft and played in all 16 games during his rookie season. A product of South Carolina, Ingram went ahead of other noted pass-rushers such as Chandler Jones (New England Patriots), Whitney Mercilus (Houston Texans) and Courtney Upshaw (Baltimore Ravens).
He stared one of his 16 rookie games, had one sack and contributed 16 total tackles to the Chargers defense. He also added five pass deflections and one forced fumble—against the Oakland Raiders in San Diego's 2012 season opener.
Expected to be a major contributor in San Diego's 3-4 scheme in 2013, the ACL injury will force Ingram to miss the entire season and require the team to start looking elsewhere for pass-rushing help.
As noted by NFL.com's Albert Breer, Ingram certainly isn't a superstar, but in the Chargers' specific defensive scheme, you need all the help you can get when it comes to rushing the quarterback:
Tough. Not a superstar. But you need OLBs to rush in that 34. Bolts lack depth there. RT @rapsheet Doctors fear Melvin Ingram has a torn ACL— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 14, 2013
One of the NFL's mid-tier pass-rushing teams in 2012, San Diego finished tied for 11th with 38.0 quarterback takedowns. Despite the fact that the Chargers clearly weren't one of the NFL's worst teams, they also don't jump off the page, a fact noted by ESPN's Bill Williamson in his AFC West roundup earlier this offseason.
With Ingram now out for the 2013 season, his absence could force the Chargers to kick around the idea of bringing in more talent at the position. Lucky for management, one noted pass-rusher is still without an NFL home after being cut this summer.
Former Indianapolis Colts star Dwight Freeney is still on the free-agent market. Although his place as a 3-4 OLB might come into question in pass coverage, he can still get to the quarterback and had 13.5 sacks during his final two seasons in Indy.
Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee suggested that general manager Tom Telesco, who previously worked for the Colts franchise, might know whether or not a guy like Freeney would be worth it to this franchise:
We wish Ingram the best in surgery and the recovery process. If we've learned anything from the Derrick Rose saga, it's that knee injuries (specifically ACL tears) are the worst.