There’s a palpable excitement surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers early on in the 2021 training camp in training camp, and that excitement has extended down into the Steelers’ players, namely one new player – outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III.
Speaking to reporters Saturday following practice at the Steelers’ South Side facility, Ingram spoke glowingly about getting the chance to play with not only All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt, but second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith as well.
Highsmith is slated to assume the starting role opposite Watt after the loss of Bud Dupree in free agency, which puts Ingram in more of a reserve role, though the Steelers and defensive coordinator Keith Butler said they would experiment with all three on the field together at the same time.
Coming over from the Los Angeles Chargers as a three-time Pro Bowler along with 49.0 career sacks, one would think it would be hard for Ingram to all of a sudden assume a reserve role, but at 32 years old and seeing a real opportunity in front of him in Pittsburgh, Ingram said he’s like a kid in a candy store thinking about playing with Watt and Highsmith, especially Watt who is at the height of his powers as a pass rusher.
Ingram should know about playing with an elite-level pass rusher on the opposite side, having played with Chargers’ All-Pro Joey Bosa for five seasons.
“Everything, everything [stands out with Watt], the way he goes about his work, the way he does everything in this place speaks for itself,” Ingram said. “So it’s a blessing for me to even be here and be playing opposite side of him and Highsmith. Like, it’s just great to be playing with all those guys, man. It’s like kid in a candy store.”
Along with his excitement to play with Watt and Highsmith, Ingram says he’s not worried about snap counts or alignments at this point, instead focusing on being thankful to be a Steeler and just focusing on being on the field in whatever role the Steelers ask of him.
“I ain’t never paid attention to that [snap count and alignment],” Ingram said. “I’m just playing. I ain’t never really just went on, like, ‘let me break down how often I go inside or outside.’ As long as I’m out there, I’m good.”
With Ingram, Watt and Highsmith all healthy and providing different aspects of the pass rush, it will be something to see with all three pass rushers on the field at once trying to get after the quarterback on a snap-to-snap basis.