After adding veteran outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in mid-July, the Pittsburgh Steelers — at least on paper — did a tremendous job of shoring up a legitimate hole on the roster behind All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt and budding second-year pass rusher Alex Highsmith.
Since that day, Ingram has been nothing short of spectacular in Pittsburgh, embracing his reserve role with the Steelers, according to head coach Mike Tomlin, while helping Watt and Highsmith continue to develop their pass-rush repertoire, creating a three-headed monster at outside linebacker in a formidable Steelers’ front seven defensively.
The key to all of that, according to Tomlin, is that Ingram — a former Pro Bowl pass rusher with 49.5 career sacks — has embraced the responsibility of being an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh.
“He just embraces the responsibility of being an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh, and it’s something that is attractive to him,” Tomlin said to Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola. “I was talking the other day about little things that we do traditionally here to kind of illustrate that. Over the years I’ve made a point never to change the name of the defense where our outside linebackers blitz. It’s Dog Rush. It’s Dog Rush for T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and Melvin Ingram, the same way it was Dog Rush for James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, the same way it was Dog Rush for Joey Porter and Jason Gildon, the same way it was Dog Rush for Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd. And so, we pay respect to the lineage. We challenge our present guys to live up to the circumstance, and I think Ingram just buys into that.”
There were questions about how Ingram would adjust to a reserve role after being one of the main men in San Diego and Los Angeles with the Chargers, Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu, but there’s been no issues at this point as Ingram has adjusted quickly and has provided the Steelers with impressive depth and a high level of play now that he’s fully healthy after a tough last couple of seasons in Los Angeles.
The talent remains without a doubt, and if he can continue to embrace the responsibility that comes with being an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ pass rush could push towards being one of the all-time greats in franchise history and NFL history, considering the start they’re off to in 2021.