Jerry Reese said he’s hoping to have a young linebacker step out of the shadows. Tom Coughlin noted that the young linebackers have made a good impression on him, particularly in last night’s practice in full pads.
They both could be talking about Kenny Ingram, who has been taking second-team reps at outside linebacker and has looked solid through this first week of training camp.
“I know the opportunities are there,” he said, “but I try not to focus on it. If you get caught up on focusing on everything then your level of play goes down so I try to focus on making one play at a time.”
Ingram is trying to make the Giants roster for the third time. He was an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in 2009 but was cut before the season. He came back on the practice squad a few weeks later and spent last offseason with the team in OTAs and minicamps. But just before the start of training camp last summer – his car was packed and he was ready to drive to Albany – he got a call telling him that the Giants had signed Keith Bulluck and he was going to be the one cut to make room.
Rather than sit out the fall, he played for the Hartford Colonials of the UFL and rejoined the Giants’ practice squad for the latter parts of the season. This offseason he was unable to take part in any of the OTAs because there weren’t any so he just focused on doing one-on-one drills and keeping his weight up.
Ingram is 6-4 and 240 pounds now, about 20 pounds heavier than he was when he was a safety for most of his college career. As a senior at Florida State, he was moved to linebacker because an academic scandal left the Seminoles shorthanded at the position. Plus, Ingram said, linebackers coach Chuck Amato told him that linebackers make more money in the NFL than safeties do.
“He was like ‘If I was you, I’d go to linebacker. You’ll eat a lot better there.’”
So far there have been no free meals. But Ingram is making a quick impression on the Giants, the team that has parted ways with him twice already but has also brought him in three times.
“That’s a great sign,” Ingram said of being asked back. “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen. I think persistence will get you there. Hopefully everything works out.”
He still wears a safety number -- 43 -- and he is a little taller than your average linebacker. But ingram said that only helps him see over the blockers and get a feel for the backfield. That, he said, is the biggest difference between safety and linebacker, the fact that everything is so close and you have to see it all at once. At safety he could absorb the whole field visually.
There's also the hitting part.
"I actually like the linebacker position," he said, although he admitted he was resistant to the change at first. "It’s a fun position. It’s a lot different than safety, there’s a lot more contact. I think that meshes better with what I like to do."