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Te'o was tabbed as a starter at inside linebacker alongside Donald Butler as soon as he arrived in San Diego as a second round pick last spring, but he didn't make his debut until the fourth game of the season after a foot injury kept him out of the first three games.
But Te'o said it was a three game stretch in the middle of the season when he had to assume the role of defensive signal caller while Butler was sidelined with an injury that changed his season.
SAN DIEGO As the calendar flipped to 2014 this week, Manti Te'o allowed himself a moment to reflect on what had been the wildest year of his young life.
In the months leading up to the draft, Te'o was the biggest name in sports, for all the wrong reasons. He did a television interview with Katie Couric, and his media session at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis drew the largest crowd of Puma Creepers Black
game loss, and shortly after it was revealed Te'o had been the victim of a social media hoax duped by an acquaintance into believing he had developed a relationship with a long distance girlfriend and that she had died.
Te'o admitted he had leaned too much on Butler early and at times questioned what he was doing without Butler's on field guidance.
"I was thinking, 'Man, these are the good days,'" Te'o told USA TODAY Sports. "But now I'm here, in the NFL, and am going to play in the playoffs. I just think about all the growth and just getting to play football. I'm grateful for the good times, the bad times just the growth and the maturing process. Everything happens for a reason."
He ended up in San Diego a place where Te'o has been able to remove himself from the national spotlight, where he has been a starter but certainly not a star on a young team that made an unlikely run to the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Chargers play Sunday in Cincinnati against the third seeded Bengals.
He has been credited with 61 tackles, including a season high 10 tackles in last week's overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs.
reporters in combine history as he faced questions about his personal life and his NFL future.
Butler laughed Thursday when asked about how Te'o played in those games without him, though he pointed out that the Chargers went 2 1, including a win against the Indianapolis Colts.
Te'o, 22, the San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker, thought back to last New Year's Eve, when he celebrated the arrival of 2013 with his teammates and coaches from Notre Dame as they prepared to play Alabama for the national championship. He was one of the hottest collegiate athletes then a Heisman Trophy finalist, an apparent lock to be a first round pick in the NFL draft.
"He's understanding the physicality of the game. Every week he's getting Puma Fenty Velvet Burgundy
"It's a quiet place. Very passionate place about their football, and it's close to home. It's exactly what I needed," Te'o said. "I can just play and be myself and not have to worry about Puma Basket Platform Rainbow anything else. I can worry about me and my guys, my family. That's all I care about."
Manti Te'o finds comfort zone in San Diego
Consider what happened to Te'o in the 365 days between. He and Notre Dame floundered in the BCS title Puma Basket Heart Laces
"That was the roughest time but also the time where I grew up the most," Te'o said. "There were many moments where I was like, 'I don't know what the heck I'm doing.' It was understanding that there was a lot of responsibility on your plate. Trying to stay calm, because once you panic, everyone else starts panicking.
a little more physical and a little more physical, so I think the future is really bright for him," veteran outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said.
"It's about making sure the guys trust you, that when you tell them what the play is, that's the play."
Johnson and other teammates said that improvement came as Te'o finally got healthy the injury forced him to miss nearly all of the preseason as well and gained confidence, something he lacked when he took his first snaps with the starters.
"He was wide eyed and had a lot of questions. Jittery, not quite in plays," Butler said. "But that's just a young guy. Each week, he's gotten better. Every week he's coming to me and asking what he can do better. Asking me what I'm seeing. He's picking up on stuff, and you can see it in his play."
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