(Fon)ally Back

After a tumultuous two weeks and countless hours in rehabilitation, Ole Miss senior free safety Fon Ingram made his return to the practice fields Tuesday. Read about it inside.

Senior free safety Fon Ingram, sidelined for weeks after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee, returned to practice Tuesday.

And for an Ole Miss secondary in desperate need of his experience, it was a welcomed sight.

Fon Ingram

He had two interceptions on the day, but perhaps most promising was his mere presence in the starting lineup.

Ole Miss surrendered over 250 passing yards, mostly after halftime, to Jacksonville State in a stunning loss.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "I have to give it up to the people in the training room, trying to get me right. I'm working hard and busting my butt to get out here with the players. I miss them. I'm just trying to help out, fit where I'm supposed to be, do what I got to do for the team."

Ingram's fill-in, junior Damien Jackson, had an up-and-down game. He was among the team's leading tacklers, but was the guilty party on a 4th-and-15 conversion in double overtime. JSU made good on a two-point conversion a play later to win the game.

"He balled out to me," Ingram said of Jackson. "He had a good game, a great game, as far as his first time playing in the SEC. I'm not taking anything away from him. I felt like he still did a helluva job. You've just got to learn from your mistakes."

Ingram, meanwhile, looked on from the sidelines. He felt helpless, even crying prior to the game as his teammates warmed up. There was nothing he could do.

"It hurt me, man. I actually cried through warm-up," he said. "It was hurting me, but I had to be strong for the team. You've got to do what you've got to do."

Ingram said he's around "94 percent" strength-wise. Regardless, having Ingram on the field in any capacity was a relief to head coach Houston Nutt.

"Thank goodness," he said. "I knew that we'd miss him, but I was surprised by how much."

Houston Nutt

Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix was equally relieved. Ingram said he expects to play Saturday at Tulane, a nationally-televised broadcast on ESPN2.

"It brings a smile to my face that he could be back for the Tulane game," Nix said. "He provides leadership and when things go wrong, he is one of our guys who can hold things together.

"As a staff, we were talking the other day and mentioned how he seems to make more plays on the ball than any of our (defensive backs) and we certainly lacked that last Saturday.

"He's a ballplayer."

Ingram isn't making too much of his faster-than-expected return. He's only trying to do his part, helping lead a team now 0-1 on the season. But while the last few weeks have been a grind, Ingram understands he's needed.

"I just worked hard. They put a day (to return) in my head, and I just tried to run with it," he said. "I know the team wants me and needs me to be out there, just as bad as I want to be out there with them. I just took the training room serious and tried to get back out here as soon as possible."

And his words of encouragement are simple.

"You've got to put the hard times in the past and move on with the good," Ingram said. "There's going to be plenty of good, plenty of mistakes, plenty of good corrections you've got to make. Everything's going to be alright."

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