Melvin Ingram returns to practice

Updated: November 20, 2013, 6:21 PM ET
By Eric D. Williams | ESPN.com

SAN DIEGO -- All smiles, linebacker Melvin Ingram looked comfortable maneuvering through individual drills with his San Diego Chargers teammates Wednesday as he practiced with the team for the first time this season.

Ingram is still rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee that occurred in May and remains on San Diego's physically unable to perform list. The Chargers have until Dec. 10 to decide whether to add Ingram to the active roster or place him on the reserve PUP list for the remainder of the season.

Ingram said he felt like he could play on Sunday at Kansas City but will leave it up to San Diego's coaches and training staff to determine when he will return. It's unlikely that Ingram would be added to San Diego's active roster this week.

[+] EnlargeMelvin Ingram
AP Photo/Gregory BullMelvin Ingram, the Chargers' top pick in the 2012 draft, returned to practice Wednesday after tearing his ACL in May.

"Mentally I'm strong," Ingram said. "I just feel like if the trainers say I'm ready to go out there, then I'm ready and I'm going to go full speed. If I'm going to get hurt, then God already has that written into my plans."

During an early portion of practice in a tackling drill, an eager Ingram took down fellow linebacker Manti Te'o, even though the Chargers were just in helmets, jerseys and shorts.

"I didn't even mean to," Ingram said, smiling. "I was just being anxious to be out there and do something you love to do. So I didn't even mean to do that."

Even though he hasn't been practicing, Ingram has been traveling on the road with the team this season. He suffered a broken foot in college at South Carolina, so he understands the hard work it takes to return from a serious injury.

Ingram also consulted teammates Brandon Taylor and Danario Alexander, along with Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles -- all players who had to rehab from serious knee injuries.

With Dwight Freeney (torn quad) and Larry English (torn pectoral muscle) on injured reserve for the season, the Chargers could use Ingram's skill set to create a better pass rush. However, San Diego coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco have to be careful not to bring the team's first-round pick in 2012 along too quick, taking a long-term view on Ingram's career.

"He's got a ways to go," McCoy said. "And I think he'll tell you the same thing -- whether it's conditioning level, or just the techniques and doing certain things and playing ball again. When you're out of it for that long, you knock some of the rust off on a daily basis.

"He's worked extremely hard. He's been champing at the bit -- he could have been out there a month ago if he could have gotten out there somehow."

Quarterback Philip Rivers said it's good to see Ingram back on the field.

"The surgery is easy and all that," Rivers said. "But it's the work you have to put in to get back out there like he has, so I know he was excited. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. But it would be great to get him back. It would certainly give us a spark with the type of playmaker he is."

Eric D. Williams

ESPN San Diego Chargers reporter

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