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Chargers GM Tom Telesco: More fourth-quarter sacks needed

PHOENIX -- Former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Mike McCoy could never find the magic elixir for his team’s struggles in the fourth quarter.

Since the start of the 2015 season, the Chargers have a 7-18 record in games decided by eight points or less. And during the 2016 season the Chargers lost six games they led in the fourth quarter.

Well, this week Chargers general manager Tom Telesco pointed to a stat his team needs to improve on to change its fortunes in the all-important fourth quarter -- more sacks.

The Chargers finished with 10 fourth-quarter sacks last season, tied for No. 15 in the NFL.

"What we need to do a better job of is having that rush in the fourth quarter," Telesco told ESPN.com during a conversation at the NFL owners meetings. "We had some leads this year, but you can close games out in the fourth quarter by rushing the quarterback."

The Chargers placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Melvin Ingram to help remedy that issue. Ingram has yet to sign his tag, and the Chargers have until July 15 to a get a long-term deal done. Telesco said he had no update on contract talks with Ingram.

"He’s an excellent football player, and he can rush the passer," Telesco said about Ingram. "He played the run very well for us last year. I love his makeup, how hard he works and how hard he prepares himself.

"My four years here, each offseason he’s worked on a different part of his game, and once the regular season starts we’ve seen the effects of that. And I think all of the great players can do that. We’ve seen improvement every year out of him and I think he has some room to grow still. But he was a big part of our defense last year."

The hope in keeping Ingram with Joey Bosa for another season is to help improve the team’s pass rush, along with generating depth behind those two with young players like Jerry Attaochu and Chris Landrum in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.

"We think Jerry has a lot of skills and attributes that are going to fit well with Gus' defense, too," Telesco said about Attaochu.

The Chargers also will look to add more pass-rushers in this year’s draft.

In terms of the team’s operation for draft weekend, Telesco said the Chargers will remain at Chargers Park in San Diego at the end of April.

"That’s the plan right now, but things are flexible," Telesco said. "Probably the one thing out of this whole transition is flexibility -- because things are going to come up that we didn’t anticipate. Things are going to change."

Telesco said the Chargers will be on the field during draft week, and he wanted to maintain continuity so coaches could be easily reached for discussions while the draft is taking place. Telesco said the team will be on their regular football schedule at Chargers Park up until the end of mandatory minicamp in June.

The Chargers have an agreement with the city of Costa Mesa to hold training camp at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex, and will move into the team’s nearby practice facility once camp breaks at the end of August.