It’s almost hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense right now without Melvin Ingram, the veteran edge defender whom they signed to a one-year deal just before training camp started, given everything that has transpired the past two weeks.
With Alex Highsmith already ruled out and T.J. Watt questionable to play, Ingram is the only sure thing the defense has on the edge at the moment, with first-year college free agent Jamir Jones the next man up if Watt can’t play. Derrek Tuszka and Taco Charlton are possible practice squad call-up options as well.
Ingram has been very good through two weeks, but he has also served as an important example on the field to the younger players on the team, such as Highsmith and Jones in particular, using his accumulated experience to show how to work and take care of yourself.
“My leadership, I display it by my work ethic, what I do on the field. I don’t try to be super vocal, because I feel like anybody can do that”, Ingram recently told Missi Matthews for the team’s website in a one-on-one sit-down interview.
“You can pick somebody off the streets to be vocal, but it takes a special leader to do it by work ethic, going out there and leading by example”, he continued. “That’s what I try to do. It’s not something where I say, ‘listen, I’m gonna go out there and try to work hard so I can be a leader’. No, I just do what I do and if it falls into that place, then it happens”.
Himself a former first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, Ingram is a three-time former Pro Bowler, who just recorded the 50th sack of his career this past Sunday in the Steelers’ loss to the Las Vegas Raiders—and given that he played most of his career in the AFC West, he was very comfortable sacking quarterback Derek Carr, this marking his 10th of the Raiders’ passer—a full 20 percent of his total career sacks.
Ingram understands his position as a veteran, because he remembers when he was one of the young players watching, studying players then who are now in situations like his own, veterans who have been there and done that.
“They’re definitely gonna look at you”, he said. “I know when I was a young guy, I definitely looked at every older player just to try to steal something from them that they did on a daily basis, or how they went about their work. That’s why I try to go about mine the right way”.
By appearances, he has seemingly done everything the right way since arriving in Pittsburgh, and boy are they going to need it this week.