The Pittsburgh Steelers got outside linebacker Melvin Ingram inside a stadium for the first time tonight after having signed the three-time former Pro Bowler shortly before training camp began. Head coach Mike Tomlin opted not to play him last week in the preseason debut, so the interstate bout against the Philadelphia Eagles was the first opportunity for most to see him in the black and gold.
And he certainly approved of his own performance, telling reporters after the game, “I’m definitely where I need to be. I’m still a pro. I still understand how to put the work in no matter if I’m getting preseason [reps] or not, but just coming out, being able to play today was amazing, and I definitely know I’m where I want to be”.
Feeling that there was a lack of quality depth at the inside linebacker position after losing Bud Dupree and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi in the offseason, the Steelers remained on the lookout after the draft for help, after drafting Quincy Roche in the sixth round.
Ingram and Justin Houston were the top options on the open market. They reportedly were close to signing Houston at one point—which he confirmed himself, after signing with the Baltimore Ravens—but Pittsburgh appears as satisfied with Ingram so far as he is in his own preseason debut.
Despite his optimism in his own performance, he actually failed to generate any traditional statistics over the course of his time on the field. In comparison, his starting partner, Alex Highsmith, registered one tackle and a quarterback hit.
It remains to be seen how the playing time between the two works out once the Steelers get T.J. Watt signed to a long-term contract extension and back on the field, though the continuing presumption is that Highsmith, the second-year former third-round pick, will remain on the field as the starter, even if everybody should get playing time.
It is in the best interests of all three, and of the defense as a whole, that all three get playing time, as working in tandem, they can help to keep one another fresh and energized. Veteran Cassius Marsh will also likely see a bit of playing time here and there if they need both starters to come off the field in a rotation on a long drive.
While Ingram did not register any statistics, he did look the part on the field, and he showed good speed-to-power rushing while he was getting after the passer. That should be no surprise for somebody who has seen the sort of success at this level as he has.