Replacing Melvin Ingram

The Chargers suffered their first major injury of the 2013 season -- that didn't take long, did it? -- when Melvin Ingram tore his ACL during the second day of OTAs. Here is a look at the options Tom Telesco is sifting through as he searches for a way to rebuild his pass rush.

A first-round pick in 2012, Melvin Ingram led the team with 29 quarterback-hurries as a rookie. And although he recorded just one sack, he was expected to be San Diego's best edge-rusher in 2013.

Into his spot in the starting lineup goes Larry English, a fellow former first-round pick. English is an enigma. After playing sparingly as a rookie, he missed large chunks of his second and third years with foot and groin injuries. He was finally healthy in 2012 but was buried on the depth chart behind Ingram, Shaun Phillips, Jarret Johnson and Antwan Barnes. Three of those four obstacles will have been removed by the time training camp starts in August.

English has yet to prove he can be a reliable part of San Diego's pass rush, as evidenced by his modest career total of 8.5 sacks. But he has talent; he rang up 31.5 sacks and 63 tackles for loss during his time at Northern Illinois. He also has a good first step and the ability to quickly disengage from blocks.

Can English finally put it all together and make the most of his golden opportunity? Telesco is not willing to bet on it, which is why he is searching for competition.

DE Dwight Freeney
First in line is Dwight Freeney, who visited the Chargers on Wednesday and Thursday. Freeney is one of the most accomplished sack artists in league history, but at 33 is on the downside of his career.

There are some connections here. He spent last season playing under Chuck Pagano, brother of Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano. His dominance in Indianapolis also came under the watchful eye of former Colt executive Telesco.

Freeney had just five sacks in 2012, his first year playing linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Coach Mike McCoy has already stated the team will alter its defense if Freeney comes aboard, allowing him to come off the edge with his hand on the ground. That is assuming San Diego can land Freeney, whose contract demands caused him to leave town without a signed deal.

There are other options on the market, including former Charger and San Diego State Aztec Antwan Applewhite. He started 13 games for the Chargers in 2010, finishing with 37 tackles and three sacks. He started four of his 17 games played over the last couple years with the Carolina Panthers, adding three more sacks during that stretch.

No matter which veteran the Chargers add, they will also need more than expected from rookie Tourek Williams. Drafted in the sixth round because of his speed off the edge and ability to quickly close on quarterbacks, Williams finished his career at Florida International with 18 sacks (including 6.5 sacks as a senior).

There's no easy way to replace a player of Ingram's talent. But with the right combo of outside pass rushers -- and with the continued ascent of linemen Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes -- John Pagano has a chance to field a field a top-10 defense despite Ingram's devastating injury.

Can Freeney cure what ails San Diego? Talk about it inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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