- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers' first-round draft selection last year, edge rusher Melvin Ingram diligently works on agility drills with a trainer on a side field while the rest of his teammates prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Five months after having surgery to fix a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Ingram appears close to returning.
But looks can be deceiving when you’re talking about the long-term strength and stability of a knee, particularly at a position where an athlete has to put so much torque on his body to perform his job.
Now that the Chargers are in Week 7, Ingram is eligible to be activated off the physically unable to perform list and onto the active roster. However, according to league rules, the Chargers have a five-week window to bring Ingram back to the practice field. After that, the team would have 21 days to place Ingram on the active roster, which means he could be activated as late as the team’s Dec. 12 contest at Denver – nearly seventh months after his surgery.
San Diego coach Mike McCoy indicated the team is in no rush to make a decision.
“Melvin’s working extremely hard to get back,” McCoy said. “We’re going to do what’s best for him and the rest of the team. If you asked Melvin, he would’ve told you a month and a half ago he could’ve played. But that’s been his approach from the day he got hurt here, is that he would be back, and don’t worry about it.
“We just have to make sure we do what’s best for Melvin and his future, and the football team this year. We’re taking it one day at a time with him, and he’s working extremely hard. And when it’s the best time for the entire organization, he’ll be back out there as soon as we can get him out there.”
Ingram suffered the injury on May 14, during an offseason workout at the team’s facility, and had surgery a week later.
Typically, the recovery time for ACL injuries has been nine months to a year. But Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson changed the perception of league observers on that time frame by successfully making it back in eight months, playing in the first game of the 2012 regular season after having major knee surgery in December 2011, and going on to rush for more than 2,000 yards.
More recently, Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons returned to action eight months after surgery in January, playing in four games for the Seahawks before suffering an elbow injury last week.
“With the advancement in the medical field these days, everybody is coming back faster from all injuries,” McCoy said. “There’s certain things, techniques – whatever it is they’re doing with players, or anybody – all the research that’s put into the health and safety of players and what they’re doing is getting better and better every year.
“It’s kind of like a computer. Once a new one comes out, it’s outdated. So there’s new techniques, new things that they are doing, medications, rehab things that they are doing. And [head trainer James Collins] and his staff have done a great job of helping the players get as healthy as possible.”
Notes: Four San Diego players on the active roster did not participate in practice on Wednesday: linebacker Donald Butler, who missed last week’s game with a groin injury, receiver Eddie Royal (toe), and offensive linemen Jeromey Clary (clavicle) and Chad Rinehart (toe).