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Melvin Ingram studying linebacker and defensive end positions

San Diego Chargers Minicamp

SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: NFL Rookie Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers runs through drills during a minicamp workout on May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)

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With the 18th pick in the 2012 draft, the Chargers picked defensive end Melvin Ingram. He was instantly presumed to be destined to play linebacker in San Diego’s 3-4 defense.

That may not be the case.

Speaking to the media on the first day of rookie camp, Ingram said he’s been studying both the linebacker and defensive end positions. Which means he could be playing either, or both.

“I look at outside linebacker and also I look at defensive end,” Ingram said regarding his review of the playbook, via comments distributed by the team. “There is not just one position I solely focus on. I try to focus on both.”

He says he’s not confused by learning the dual assignments. “It is really not that difficult [to sort them out],” Ingram said. “You can’t just try to learn every play. You have to learn the play and the concept. So I just try to put each play into a concept to make it easier.”

Even if he plays exclusively linebacker (more likely) or exclusively defensive end (far less likely), the more any player knows about what the other men will be doing on a given play, the more effective he’ll be -- and the more equipped he’ll be to become the kind of leader who can hold teammates accountable.

Regardless of where he lines up, Ingram is getting closer and closer to fulfilling the prediction his late father made when Melvin was a toddler. As explained in an excellent profile of Ingram by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, more than 20 years ago George Melvin Ingram Sr. described young Melvin to his wife and friends as “my NFL baby.”