Melvin Ingram, one of the Chargers’ top defensive players, stood behind the microphone Monday morning and made a prediction.
“This Super Bowl we’re going to win,” he said.
And the reaction of the people with the digital recorders, television cameras and microphones?
The Chargers have never won a Super Bowl. They have reached it only once. And they have made the playoffs only once in the last eight seasons.
But Ingram wasn’t joking.
Making his first appearance at one of the team’s volunteer workouts this offseason, Ingram wanted to make clear his goal for next season. Forget pressure. He wanted to “speak stuff into existence.”
“We’re trying to win a Super Bowl. That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Everything we’re doing, that I’m doing, that every player’s doing, that every coach is doing, we’re trying to win the Super Bowl.”
It just so happens, though, that what Ingram is doing isn’t necessarily the first choice of the organization.
Although the organized team practice activities (OTAs) are voluntary, coach Anthony Lynn has made it clear that his preference is for all players to attend. Ingram, for the second consecutive season, has spent most of his offseason in Miami instead of with the team.
“It’s good the prodigal son came home,” Lynn said about Ingram.
Ingram, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, has become one of the top pass rushers in the NFL over the last three seasons, registering 29 sacks — one of only eight players to have at least eight sacks in each of the last three seasons.
And with Ingram’s contract up after the 2016 season, the Chargers were forced to use the franchise tag on him — an option that guaranteed a lucrative one-year deal if he and the team couldn’t work out a long-term deal.
While the negotiations were taking place last summer, Ingram skipped the Chargers’ offseason program for the first time, settling into a new routine in Florida.
“[It was] definitely a blessing in disguise. Those are the perfect words for it,” Ingram said.
He returned to minicamp after signing a four-year, $66-million contract and proceeded to have one of his best seasons, recording 10 ½ sacks in his first season as a full-time end.
And although there’s no contract dispute this time, he decided to repeat his routine from a year ago.
“That sun, that heat in Florida is different. Way different. I’ve got a specialized chef in Florida. I’ve got a specialized trainer in Florida. I’ve got a specialized position coach in Florida,” Ingram said. “We work on everything, really. I’m doing training workouts. … My position person, it’s just me and him. We’re out there for hours just working on the little things.”
Ingram’s pass-rushing counterpart, Joey Bosa, has also chosen to work out with his personal training team instead of using the Chargers’ program, although Bosa attends the OTAs.
Ingram has been talking to Lynn about his plan, the one he believes will lead to a Super Bowl.
“We communicate. We talk about it, communicate about it a lot,” Ingram said. “They know what’s going on. It’s just me staying with my trainer, my nutritionist, my position people, just working on my body and everything.
“It’s just something I do now. It’s a normal routine.”
Can they kick it?
The Chargers’ kicking woes last season seem like the easiest to correct in 2018, with the team adding Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo in the offseason.
The two will be competing for the job once training camp begins, special-teams coordinator George Stewart said.
“Right now, it’s a feeling-out period because it’s really our first chance to see those guys kick. They’ve both done a good job during the course of the offseason in terms of kicking the football. So we’re excited about both of those young men,” Stewart said. “Caleb, when he came out, he was a fifth-round pick. Roberto is a second-round pick. Obviously, those guys have some quality to them in terms of where they were drafted. Caleb is a veteran guy. Roberto, this is his second year going back into the league. So, we’re looking forward to seeing what both those guys can do.”
Sturgis was the Philadelphia Eagles kicker last season before an injury in the opening game cost him the rest of their Super Bowl season. Aguayo, though only in his second year, is trying to save his career after flaming out in Tampa Bay.
The team tried four kickers last year, combining to make only 20 of 30 field-goal attempts.
Last year’s first-round pick, receiver Mike Williams, was a very limited participant Monday because of a hamstring injury. Williams sat out for a significant time in his rookie year because of back and knee injuries. … Cornerback Casey Hayward didn’t participate Monday either, with Lynn calling it a rest day. … Receiver Artavis Scott, who spent last season on the team’s practice squad, made another great catch in drills in his push for a spot on the roster. … Stewart mentioned undrafted rookie linebacker D’Juan Hines and undrafted rookie tight end Ben Johnson as players who look as if they could make an impact on special-teams units. … The Chargers will hold a mandatory minicamp for three days beginning June 12.