SAN DIEGO -- Together, they played a total of eight regular-season games last season, finishing with 1.5 sacks between them for the San Diego Chargers.
"I’ve been wanting to play with Melvin for a while now," Freeney said. "Melvin gets after it, and it’s going to be really fun. There’s going to be a lot of speed off of that edge."
San Diego’s pass rush was anemic last season. The Chargers finished with just 35 sacks in 2013, tied for 23rd in the NFL. Even worse, the Chargers had just 10 sacks on third down, second-worst in the league.
The Chargers haven’t had a double-digit sack guy on the roster since Antwan Barnes finished with 11 sacks during the 2011 season.
Ingram suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee last May that required surgery, forcing him to miss most of last season. The Chargers signed Freeney during the offseason to replace Ingram, but he suffered a torn quad in a Week 4 contest against Dallas, ending his 2013 campaign.
Freeney says after a grueling offseason of rehabilitation and working back into game shape, he is healthy and ready to play in a regular-season game for the first time in a year.
"I’ve been itching to just get back into that whole preparation mode, studying my guy and getting ready to play ball," Freeney said.
"You’re a little extra motivated, because you haven’t gone out and hit anybody and played a real game in a while," added Freeney. "So you probably have a little more adrenaline flowing through your veins, just a little bit more excitement than you normally would, because you haven’t done it in a year."
Ingram said he relishes the opportunity of playing with an experienced pass-rusher like Freeney, currently sixth among NFL active players with 108 sacks.
"It’s a blessing to have a player of his caliber out there," Ingram said. "It’s just like having another coach on the field."
Only five teams last season had at least two players finish with double digit sacks -- Buffalo (Mario Williams 13, Kyle Williams 10.5, Jerry Hughes 10), New Orleans (Cameron Jordan 12.5, Junior Galette 12), Carolina (Greg Hardy 15, Charles Johnson 11), Kansas City (Tamba Hali 11, Justin Houston 11) and the New York Jets (Muhammed Wilkerson 10.5, Calvin Pace 10).
The Chargers would be giddy if Freeney and Ingram could join that group, but would probably take just one of those players finishing with at least 10 sacks.
San Diego’s first target defensively this season is a good one, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer. Chargers defensive captain Jarret Johnson said Palmer is still a franchise quarterback. Johnson should know: he competed regularly against Palmer while playing for the Baltimore Ravens when Palmer was in Cincinnati.
However, Palmer is not a mobile quarterback. On third down last season, Palmer was sacked 15 times, threw nine touchdowns and nine interceptions, finishing with a 77.1 passer rating.
"You’ve got to get to him," Johnson said. "You’ve got to pressure him. You don’t hear that much about him anymore, but he’s still Carson Palmer. He’s still one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. Even though he’s not talked about as much, he is that guy."