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Saturday, December 7, 2013
Managing expectations for Melvin Ingram

By Eric D. Williams

SAN DIEGO – According to San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram performed better than expected during practice coming off of anterior cruciate ligament surgery on his left knee in May.

So it should be little surprise that the Chargers announced on Saturday that they moved Ingram from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to the active roster.

Ingram
San Diego could have waited until Tuesday, but bringing the South Carolina product on board in a familiar environment at Qualcomm Stadium makes sense -- where the weather is expected to be 57 degrees and sunny -- instead of making Ingram’s first appearance in the freezing cold temperatures of Denver on the road next week.

But with Ingram still six-and-a-half months removed from major reconstructive knee surgery on May 21, expectations for his first game in nearly a year should be measured.

Perhaps we can look to Seattle Seahawks pass-rusher Chris Clemons for some guidance.

Seattle's leading pass-rusher had ACL reconstructive knee surgery on Jan. 18 by orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews -- the same doctor who handled Ingram’s operation, .

Similar to Ingram, Clemons pushed to get back on the field. Clemons missed the first two games of the season, playing in his first game for the Seahawks eight months after his surgery against Jacksonville on Sept. 22.

Entering the game on third down and in passing situations, Clemons played just 16 snaps his first game. That number jumped to a season-high 58 plays against Houston the following week. Clemons has played in 10 straight games for the Seahawks, totaling 3.5 sacks.

If he’s active for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, expect the Chargers’ training staff to control Ingram’s workload in a similar manner, gradually working him into game shape.

Activating Ingram now could be viewed as a risky move for the Chargers. Some might believe taking a more conservative approach and waiting to get Ingram on the field in a more controlled environment like training camp, giving him more time to build strength, stamina and mobility, might be a wiser approach.

But Ingram needs to play football at some point. And if the training staff deems Ingram healthy enough to play, why not get some snaps under his belt so he has film to evaluate during the offseason, along with the knowledge that his knee is fully healthy.

More than anything, Ingram’s presence on the field should give San Diego an emotional lift. The Chargers, losers of four out of their last five games, could use the help. San Diego’s defense did not record a sack last week against Cincinnati.