'Hard Knocks' expands on contract situation with Chargers' Melvin Ingram

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Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram picks up a fumble by Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and scores a touchdown in the 3rd quarter.
Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram returns a fumble by Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor for a touchdown. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)



Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram knows his worth to the team, and he isn’t afraid to share it.

As the offensive and defensive units prepared for a four-minute drill, coach Anthony Lynn laid out the rules.

They were simple. The offense needs to advance down the field. They get three timeouts. If the defense creates a turnover, the drill is over.

Ingram lined up to the right side, dropped back into coverage and then snagged an interception off quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

“That’s how you finish a game, there, D,” Lynn said through a microphone captured by the "Hard Knocks" crew.

A little further down the sideline, Ingram offered his own comments.

“That’s why I need that guaranteed-ass money,” said Ingram, who posted seven sacks and an interception last season.

That moment captured the essence of this season’s third episode of "Hard Knocks." It showed players competing for the first time in pads, while expanding on who they are off the field.

Ingram “held in” during a few practices in training camp because he was unsatisfied with his contract situation.

Instead of not showing up, Ingram helped coach some of the younger players but refused to participate in drills. At virtual news conferences, Lynn called the predicament “company business.”

"Hard Knocks" cameras showed Lynn and Ingram having a short conversation on the field, with the coach understanding his player’s actions.

“I appreciate you being out here,” Lynn said. “... is going to work itself out.”

And it did. The Chargers restructured the three-time Pro Bowl player’s contract, guaranteeing him $14 million through the end of the season.

Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton told Ingram on the sideline that he was impressed with how the defender carries himself.

"If you take the energy that you have, the respect, the field cred that you have within this team and just lead them the right way, hold them accountable in everything that they do, we got a chance to win it all," he said.

A way Ingram decompressed from those issues was from rapping. Cameras showed him in street clothes — layered Cuban-link necklaces and a Richard Mille watch — at a recording studio working on a song.

The 31-year-old said he’s created music since childhood. This project addressed social justice topics, such as the killing of Breonna Taylor.

“It’s a lot of stuff going on in the world that a lot of people might have an opinion on,” Ingram said. “I’m trying to shed light on it because the first step in fixing a problem is identifying it.”

Rams rookie linebacker Clay Johnston used his time to escape football worries by talking to his father, Kent, via videoconference. The seventh-round draft pick from Baylor sits near the bottom of the roster, and chatted with his dad, a former NFL strength-and-conditioning coach, about his chances of making the team.

But a special guest entered the chatroom too — Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Kent Johnston and Favre developed a close relationship while they overlapped with the Green Bay Packers. Favre even had him as the best man in his wedding. A picture shows the quarterback posing with Clay Johnston as a baby, his tiny body in Favre’s hand as he mimicked a throwing motion.

Favre told Clay Johnston to keep doing what he is doing and not worry about what he can’t control.

“I’ve played with a ton of guys, but not many guys like you who love it,” Favre said, encouraging Johnston to keep his passionate spirit.

“I always like the guys like you that come in with a lot of energy. Then on Tuesday’s I’d get my check and I would be like, ‘Can you believe they pay us for this?’”

At Chargers camp, competition seemed to ramp up, too. Receivers coach Phil McGeoghan scolded young pass catchers for not blocking well during run plays during practice. With competition to add depth behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, McGeoghan told his players in vulgar language that “if you don’t block, you won’t play.”

Alllen showed them an example, and he and cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. engaged in animated one-on-one battles and jokingly trash talked.

The episode ended with the Rams scrimmaging at new SoFi Stadium, with the offense wearing rebranded “bone” white uniforms and the defense in royal blue.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald made his presence known with a handful of sacks. Johnston even made a few tackles in the developmental period.

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