MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: Antoine Cason #20 of the San Diego Chargers looks on as Eric Weddle #32 blocks a pass intended for Michael Jenkins #84 of the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Chargers beat the Vikings 12-10 in Minnesota on Friday night, improving to 3-0 in the NFL pre-season. However, exhibition wins don't count. Exhibition losses do.
The Bolts had already lost Ryan Mathews and Vincent Brown to broken bones and Nick Hardwick to a concussion, so Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates didn't play against the Vikings (and likely won't see the field next week in San Francisco, either).
But still, San Diego lost a budding star.
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Linebacker Melvin Ingram suffered what's being called a deep thigh bruise to his left leg when he bumped legs with a Minnesota blocker. Ingram will continue to be evaluated. His recovery time will depend on the severity of the bruise.
According to the website www.sportsmd.com, thigh bruises come in varying degrees. Here's what it says about the middle-of-the-road variety:
"A moderate muscle contusion results in an increase in bleeding into the muscle tissue and more damage to the actual muscle fibers. The signs and symptoms will be more pronounced including a noticeable limp, more bruising and swelling, and an inability to flex the knee past 90 degrees without significant pain."
I chose that one because (and here's where a whole lot of speculation on my part comes in) of what we saw with Ingram on the sidelines after the injury.
He was helped off the field, unable to put much pressure on his left leg. However, on the sidelines, the Chargers training staff (led by James Collins, who is very good at what he does) wrapped Ingram's leg with ice, in a 90 degree angle.
After a while the leg was straightened and Melvin was re-wrapped with ice. Since he was able to put the leg at 90 degrees, it's not a stretch to think Ingram's injury falls in the "moderate" category.
Typical recovery time for that is not typical. It could be a week, it could be 6 weeks. I guess, if there's good news, it's that he didn't hurt his knee and miss the whole season.
It's amazing quarterback Charlie Whitehurst left the game in one piece. Starting for Rivers behind an offensive line with three backups (two of them rookies), Whitehurst was under siege most of the night.
Charlie was sacked five times and run around a lot more than that. The fact he was even able to make it in to the 3rd quarter is shocking.
Whitehurst completed 8 of 18 passes for 82 yards. The Chargers only had 202 yards of total offense, and nearly 100 of those came in the 4th quarter behind 3rd string QB Jarrett Lee.
The Chargers defense was once again the difference.
San Diego sacked Vikings quarterbacks 5 times (two by a suddenly healthy and explosive Larry English, one each for Jarret Johnson, Kendall Reyes and Ingram) and forced 4 turnovers (three fumbles and an interception by De'Andre Pressley).
The other bright spot was the kickers. Both Nate Kaeding and Nick Novak made a pair of field goals. Kaeding hit from 50 and 54 yards, and Novak nailed the game-winning 45-yarder as time expired.
Both guys have looked great in camp. Whichever one the Chargers go with, they'll be in good hands in 2012.