In the first two games of the 2021 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense managed to utilize a great rotation of their top three outside linebackers, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram. Heading into Week 3, however, both Watt and Highsmith are now dealing with groin injuries. On Thursday, Ingram was asked how those groin injuries being dealt with right now by Watt and Highsmith might impact rotation at the outside linebacker position against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field
“I don’t think it really changes much because we’ve got players that can step up and play,” Ingram said. “So, no matter what, whoever’s suited up, whoever’s going, we’re still going to have a rotation, we’re still going to get the job done.”
Should either Watt or Highsmith or both be unable limited or unable to play on Sunday against the Bengals, it would likely result in a lot more snaps for the fourth outside linebacker on the Steelers depth chart, Jamir Jones. On Thursday, Ingram was asked about Jones possibly needing to play more on defense on Sunday and if the team is comfortable with him doing so should that ultimately be the case.
“We’re very comfortable with him [Jones],” Ingram said. “There’s a reason why he’s here. So, we’re very comfortable with him. He’s a great player and when he gets his opportunity, he going to get the job done for sure.”
While Ingram hasn’t been around Jones very long, he let it be known on Thursday that he’s seen growth from the young Notre Dame product.
“I’ve seen him grow tremendously,” Ingram said. “Just every day from camp to practice to the games. Every day, day in and day out he’s working. So, he’s just becoming a great football player in this league.”
So, is a rotation system even needed at the outside linebacker position on Sunday? Would be tough on Ingram and whomever plays opposite him against the Bengals should there not be a rotation?
“No, I don’t think it’s tough,” Ingram said. “I think it’s still football at the end of the day. No matter how it goes.”
While everyone certainly hopes that Ingram doesn’t need to play every snap against the Bengals, he made it clear on Thursday that he can do that should the need arise.
“It’s cool,” Ingram said. “I’ve done done it before.”
Ingram, who missed a lot of games last season as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers due to a knee injury, was asked on Thursday if the defense treats the recent string of injuries that unit has had as any sort of a challenge or instance to prove doubters wrong.
“Nah, it’s just a part of football,” Ingram said “No matter what position or what group you’re in, it’s a part of football. So, when injuries appear, you just got to deal with them and keep trucking.”
As for the groin injuries that Watt and Highsmith are now both dealing with, Ingram was asked on Thursday if he’s ever had to battle through one himself.
“Nah, don’t put that on me,” Ingram said. “I don’t want none of that.”
Ingram was then asked about groin injuries in Pittsburgh now seemingly being contagious as not only are Watt and Highsmith each dealing with such an injury but also cornerback Joe Haden and inside linebacker Devin Bush as well. Ingram’s response to that silly question on Thursday was fantastic.
“Ain’t nothing contagious,” Ingram said. “We’ve got to make winning contagious. That’s the only thing we want to be contagious.”