PITTSBURGH — The Steelers signing of Melvin Ingram made shockwaves throughout the NFL as they bolstered an already elite defensive line with a fearsome pass rusher in Ingram.
On Saturday, Ingram spoke with the media for the first time since his signing with the Steelers. Perhaps most interesting was when Ingram was asked about his role, he noted he would do anything the Steelers told him.
“I’m just out there doing what they’re telling me to do,” Ingram said. “Whether it’s standing up inside or outside, it’s all of the outside linebackers. I’m just being a part of it. I’m doing whatever they ask me.”
And as Ingram alluded to, the Steelers are asking him to work in some stand-up formations over the B and A gaps. This was a role that Bud Dupree became known for over the course of the 2020 season as the Steelers tried to use his explosiveness to get him free. Ingram was used like that with the Chargers, too, although he did not keep count of his snap count at each spot. Still, Ingram feels he can come in on day one and make a significant impact, no matter the role.
“We never really discussed roles,” Ingram said. “Just come in and work hard, everything else will take care of itself.”
Whether it is inside or outside, however, Keith Butler noted that the role that Ingram may possess is a rotational role. Even as he said “we’ll see” to the notion of Highsmith being an outright starter.
“Well, you always want to have three guys that can play,” Butler said. “We did last year. Alex came in and did a good job filling that role when Bud was here. So, we played all three of them quite a bit. We think we’ve got three now that are gonna be capable of playing for us. So, we can rest each other.”
However, are the Steelers going to bring back the three outside linebacker formations? If all is good up front, Butler doesn’t envision using that formation as much.
“Well, not if we got Tuitt, no. If we have Tuitt, I’d rather see a true four-man, two outside guys, two inside guys, like that,” Butler said. “If you want to do that, it’s going to have to be a third and long situation. In different situations there’s a possibility you can do that. There always is. But right now, can we put all three of them on the field at the same time? Yeah, we’ve done that stuff before.”
Ingram certainly has upside to his game. The schematic familiarity is just one of those key reasons as to why the Steelers view him as a key piece to their pass rush in 2021.