MIAMI GARDENS — After serving the Raiders for three seasons and blowing out a knee, Alec Ingold found himself out of a job.
Then, the Dolphins called. He signed a two-year contract worth $6.5 million, then revved up his rehab, hoping to be ready for the start of the 2022 season.
Two games in, we’re seeing why the Dolphins were so interested.
We’re seeing how, together with coach Mike McDaniel, Ingold is turning a so-called dying position (fullback) into one worth its weight in gold — as a blocking back, a power back, a 230-pound wide receiver (!) and downfield bulldozer.
We’re seeing how, by not chasing personal glory, personal glory is finding him.
Thursday, I sought him out in the Dolphins’ locker room to learn more about as unselfish a player as you’ll find. Here's our conversation, edited for brevity:
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Alec Ingold discusses the block that sprung Jaylen Waddle
Q: (I showed Ingold the second-quarter play vs. the Ravens in which he beat Jaylen Waddle 35 yards downfield to throw a block, helping spring Waddle for a 59-yard gain.) What’s going on here?
A: As soon as I saw Jaylen catch the ball, it’s just a quick transition to kind of block upfield, right? So it’s not really in the job description, but it’s just playing football. Like, at some point, you’re just a kid out there playing ball. I ran my route. I saw Jaylen needed some help and I went to go help him. Just having fun with the fellas outside.
Q: How much satisfaction do you get out of possibly turning a routine play into something much bigger?
A: I think that’s why I’m here. It’s just to serve the guys on offense, to help Tua (Tagovailoa) and the running backs while I’m in the backfield. It’s helping the tight ends when I’m up by them and the wide receivers when I’m out there. I take a lot of pride in just helping out the offense wherever.
Q: There’s a lot of talk about who’s faster, Waddle or Tyreek Hill. So you’re going to enter the race, too?
A: (Laughs) Nobody needs to look at my 40.
Q: Now, the very next play, you pop up again, downfield again. (We view a 15-yard pass to Hill in which Ingold runs past Ravens safety Marcus Williams, confident Trent Sherfield will block him, and continues downfield to block cornerback Marlon Humphrey.)
A: Obviously, it’s a bubble screen. It was like you’re not going to waste yourself on a block that the guys don’t need. Trent was decisive. I was decisive. And that’s kind of how you’re able to trust people on the football field. That’s how you play fast.
Q: How much satisfaction do you get out of something like a pancake block?
A: I think it’s just setting the tone for the guys, right? I definitely want to strap up tight. You want to play physical. But when I can have Chase (Edmonds) or Raheem (Mostert) come back to the sideline and be like, ‘Man, I saw that block. I hit that hole fast’ — you know that that’s really what it’s all about.
Q: Something like that never shows up on any stat sheet. It sounds like you don’t care.
A: I’m not here for a stat sheet. So it’s easy for the position to just play football.
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Alec Ingold on his fourth-down run: 'It was good just to move the sticks'
Q: You did get one shot at glory the other day. And you converted a fourth-and-1 to move the chains. What was that like?
A: I ain’t take a snap since senior year in high school (when he played quarterback). So that was really cool. Yeah, it was good just to move the sticks. But it’s cool to have those little wrinkles in the offense. Just to keep the defense on their toes.
Q: You once used to have the ball in your hands all the time. Isn’t there a bit of an itch?
A: It’s very deep back there somewhere. For coach to call your number and then you go execute that, there’s a lot of sense of pride there. It’s cool to be able to get back under center. It’s been about, what, eight years now.
Q: I remember watching this team back when Larry Csonka was playing and on third-and-1 you knew who was getting the ball. That was not a passing down. It’s interesting to see the team come back to where you don’t automatically throw on short-yardage situations.
A: Yeah, we can run or throw. I think as long as our offense is on schedule, I think that’s what gives our play-caller confidence that guys can make plays for him. So I remember Larry Csonka coming and talking to us early in the year and just being able to shake his hand and get to meet him. That’s inspiring, to be able to get in front of the guys to talk about the sacrifices he made on that ’72 team. I mean, I was ready to run through a brick wall after listening to that dude talk.
Q: Tell me what unselfishness means to you.
A: Serving. Serving other people. And I think that you’re putting other people before yourself, before your own interests, and you’re doing so without expecting anything in return. And I think football is a lot like that. I think there’s a lot of power in 11 guys serving one another, and not expecting to get the ball, not feeling like we deserve to get a catch, get a run. It’s literally for the benefit of the team. You get 11 guys that can do that on a football team, that’s something special. And it won’t show up in a boxscore and it won’t show up in wins and losses. But those little things will add up. And one day, we’ll need them. And yeah, I’m going to keep serving the guys on this team as best I can.
Q: At the same time, you’re not one of those guys who gets the ball only once a year. In the New England game, you were flying down the sideline, probably wishing that one worked.
A: Yup, that was a tough one, a big chunk play like that.
Q: We were talking with receivers coach Wes Welker earlier. He made a good point: How many times does a defense work on a play where the fullback lines up wide? They’re not expecting that.
A: It definitely gives benefit to the offense, just being able to have a little bit of variation, a little bit of diversity in positions where you’re lining up all over the place and then defenses have to react.
Q: Your season ended prematurely last year. In less than a year, it seems like you’re back at full strength. How are you feeling? Did recovery happen faster than you might have expected?
A: Man, days felt like years and then the nine months felt like it was a blink of an eye. There’s a lot of dog days of having to wake up early and rehab when you didn’t want to. And it was all in preparation for this opportunity. So to think that I wasn’t going to be prepared — there was never a doubt in my mind I wasn’t going to be ready for Week 1. Not saying it was easy. I’m not saying it was the end of the world. But it was hard.
Q: When a player gets hurt, you maybe see him carted off and then much later you see him back on the field. Is there a part in-between that fans don’t realize that you’d like to shed light on?
A: It breaks you down and makes you realize how much you’re willing to sacrifice for this game, how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the teammates. It definitely slows everything down really quickly. And then there’s long nights you can’t sleep, you’re tore up, you know it’s uncertainty. I got kicked to the curb, you know. I was a free agent and all of that. All of that is adversity. And you know, Coach says adversity is opportunity. All of that shows yourself who you are, what you’re about. And then when you show up and you have opportunities in an organization like this, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to show people who you are. And it’s genuine. It’s real. And it’s empowering. And I feel like that’s where I got a little extra juice now.
Q: To talk about opportunity, it’s not just any team you guys are facing Sunday. How are you looking at this game?
A: You’ve got to embrace the opportunity. I’m excited for it. Obviously, the team that we’re going up against is one of the best in the league, if not the best in the league. You’ve just got to be excited and want to go against the best.
Q: I know you’re new here, but it has been a long time since this team has had a game with these kind of stakes.
A: Good. Hopefully there’s more to come.
Hal Habib covers the Dolphins for The Post. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Alec Ingold: Q&A with Miami Dolphins' fullback