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Melvin Ingram leaning into ‘Kobe mentality’ by picking No. 24 jersey

The defensive end spoke for the first time as a Chief on Thursday.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Defensive end Melvin Ingram took the podium in what was his first press conference as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

Ingram was part of a deal made Tuesday ahead of the trade deadline that saw the Chiefs trade a conditional sixth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ingram — a free agent this offseason after nine years with the Los Angeles Chargersvisited the Chiefs back in the spring ahead of the NFL Draft, but the two sides could not come to an agreement.

“God always got a plan, and he brings you where he wants to bring you, when he wants to bring you. So, I just feel like he had a plan for me,” said the defensive end Thursday.

Ingram would not elaborate on what prevented him from signing with the Chiefs in the spring, but he described it as “different.”

“It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” he said. “But it’s good. It was a dope situation. I respect all those guys. I respect coach (Mike) Tomlin — all the coaches, all the players. It was definitely a blessing to be with those guys.”

Ingram had seen his snap count reduced over the past several weeks.

After playing 100% of the snaps in a Week 3 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, Ingram played roughly less than half of the snaps the following three weeks before being inactive in his last game as a member of the team due to a groin injury.

After being a full participant in practice Wednesday, Ingram reiterated that he’s in game shape, even as he is treated for a groin issue. There continues to be a little uncertainty whether Ingram will play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Head coach Andy Reid spoke about his availability on Wednesday.

Kansas City Chiefs v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

“We’re not going to put him in a bad situation,” said Reid. “He just got here, and he was able to sit in on the meetings, but he just got here late last night and kind of got cranking this morning. So, we’ll see how he picks things up and where he feels comfortable.”

One of the traits that the three-time Pro Bowler has shown consistently on the field is his intelligence. When it comes to the defensive scheme, the coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sounded bullish on Ingram’s chances.

“I think there’s always a chance because he’s a veteran,” said Spagnuolo of him possibly playing on Sunday. “I think he’s very intelligent, a smart football player, that’s what it feels like to me, but don’t know yet. Then you’ve got to have the whole how many are you going to have on that gameday roster. So, we’ll figure it out in time.”

“I feel like we’re just going to see how the week goes,” added Ingram. “I’m definitely trying to get up to speed. You can come in, and some lingo is the same, some is different. You’ve just gotta learn that lingo. That’s why we’re taking it one day at a time and try to get caught up to speed.”

Having built-in relationships ahead of his arrival to Kansas City can only help.

“I knew a couple guys, I knew Frank [Clark], I knew Chris [Jones], I knew AO [Alex Okafor], I knew Cortez [Broughton],” said Ingram. “When you already have a relationship with them and you get a chance to work with them, it just strengthens your relationship.”

After wearing the No. 54 for the Chargers, Ingram decided to change to No. 8 in Pittsburgh.

Even though that jersey was available in Kansas City as well, Ingram went with No. 24.

“I started off with the ‘Kobe (Bryant) mentality’ at the beginning of the year,” he said. “It’s a mentality that you never stop, never give up, keep-grinding type mentality that you put the work in. Coming here, I wanted to keep that same mentality, really.”

That relentless energy and mentality are what Spagnuolo highlighted when asked about Ingram.

“I love his energy, attitude,” Spagnuolo said. “He loves football. He’s passionate about football.”

“I think we have the chance to be special,” Ingram affirmed. “From the outside looking in and now the inside looking in, we have a chance to be special, and I think that is going to come with time.”