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Chargers betting big on Melvin Ingram

The Chargers pass rusher is healthy, confident and ready to blow up in his fourth NFL season.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I ain't gonna lie, I am definitely a homer when it comes to Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. I have been a fan of his since he was playing at South Carolina. When he came out of college in 2012, I felt very strongly that he would have a very nice NFL career. The one thing nobody can ever predict with any accuracy is whether a guy with a lot of potential will end up getting injured. It is the No. 1 factor for sidetracking promising careers, and those injuries always seem to come at the worst times.

Ingram didn't exactly set the world on fire as a rookie. He was trying to get accustomed to playing a stand-up rush linebacker position instead of putting his hand in the dirt as a defensive lineman like he did in college. He was active for all 16 games and appeared to be getting better throughout the season as he became more comfortable with the position.

Here's where I will say that I didn't really think playing outside linebacker catered to his skill set. I still believe playing defensive end in a 4-3, even at a little under 6'2, would've been the move for Ingram. But players don't get to choose which teams draft them or which scheme their team uses. At least at that point, it appeared that Ingram was making the best of it.

Then he tore his ACL in the spring of 2013 during OTAs. Ingram missed valuable and needed technique work before he returned for the last four games that year. I'm not really sure if it was the best idea to play him at that time, but at least Ingram did get some sorely needed reps. He even recorded the second sack of his career in a Week 16 contest against the Raiders.

Ingram took that little bit of momentum into the offseason and once again looked poised to breakout and finally be the dominant pass rusher the Chargers drafted him to be.

Watching film from the first two games of 2014, I thought we were finally going to see the Melvin Ingram that I had envisioned. He had learned how to be just as explosive out of his two-point stance as he had been coming out of his three-point stance. He had also added a few more power moves to his tool kit. Last but not least, he was back to being able to turn the corner at will, as well.

Then he hurt his hip in a Week 2 contest against the Seahawks.

He hurt it bad enough to get put on injured reserve with a designation to return. The newest category of IR -- meant to allow players to not miss a whole season if the team thinks he can be back and healthy before the year's over -- was a godsend for Ingram. It allowed him to almost repeat the program he followed in 2013, where he missed most of the early part of the season, and then came back and finished the year trying to get better.

The most disappointing thing is how well he was playing at the time of the injury. That Seahawks game was probably hands down his best overall game as a pro. He was all over the place. He missed several sacks on Russell Wilson, but hell, so does everybody else. Most importantly, he found a way to get Wilson on the ground for the third sack of his career and his constant pressure on other plays forced Wilson into several errant throws.

But all that momentum seemed to be erased by the hip injury.

Yeah, not so fast Holmes.

Ingram wasn't quite as explosive off the ball when he came back for the final seven weeks of the season, which is predictable since he was coming off the hip injury. But he still did quite a few good things to close out the year, including three sacks in the last four weeks of the season. It's also worth noting that the Chargers thought enough of him that he was inserted back into the starting lineup the moment he was physically ready and eligible to play. Just like 2013, Ingram still was able to generate at least some momentum heading into the offseason.

This time around Ingram should be completely healthy again. He will also be two years removed from his ACL injury which is when most guys generally bounce all the way back to their former level of athleticism. That excites me to no end because as explosive as he was on film at the beginning of last season, Ingram may be even more so this year.

He should be super confident in his abilities now after the games he did get to play at the end of last season. Getting back into tip top shape and having total confidence in his knee and his abilities should have Melvin Ingram ready to go HELL OFF this year.