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Te‘o still adjusting to NFL life

July 26, 2013
By BERNIE WILSON , The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - Manti Te'o was deep into his first news conference of training camp when Eric Weddle walked up to the podium, tapped the linebacker on the hip and pointed him toward the locker room.

"Rookie's got enough time. It's time for the older guy. So get in there and watch some film or something. Love ya," the veteran safety said. "Eric's up. The kids are waiting for me, so let's make this quick. Just kidding."

Well, Weddle was mostly kidding, although he did have somewhere to go with his kids.

Article Photos

Manti Te‘o practices Thursday with the San Diego Chargers.
AP photo

"I love you Eric," Te'o shot back, perhaps relieved that his media session was over.

The Punahou School graduate has handled himself well in front of microphones, however, since the San Diego Chargers moved up in the second round of April's draft to select the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Te'o is still making the adjustment from being a star at Notre Dame to an NFL rookie, and a fake-girlfriend hoax that was revealed in January also remains a topic. Earlier this month at the ESPY Awards, actor Jon Hamm made a crack about it.

"I didn't see it," Te'o said. "Everybody started texting me: 'Are you at the ESPYs?' I wish I was. At this point, it doesn't bother me at all.

"When you start focusing on the outside stuff, that's when you start to mess up," he said. "You have to focus on what you've got to do. By doing that, that's when you bring the best out of yourself and that's when you'll be a contributor to this team. I think once you start focusing on the outside stuff, that's when you start letting your team down and that's something that I don't want to do."

The Chargers held their first practice Thursday in helmets, shorts and jerseys. They don't practice in pads until Saturday.

"I'm just keeping my head down and working hard and making sure that my head is in the playbook and that they're not yelling at me too much," Te'o said.

Weddle said Te'o is doing great and doesn't seem like the typical rookie.

"He's eager to learn, extremely talented, instincts are off the charts, obviously, that's why we brought him in. Reminds me of myself in a lot of ways, in the way he recognizes plays and is in the right spot. Biggest thing for him is just consistency, continuing to learn, take what the coaches tell him, along with us as players, give him little tidbits as we see, and just take it, embrace it, have fun with it."

Te'o's No. 50 jersey is reportedly the hottest-selling among NFL rookies.

"You know how Polynesian families get. You buy them by the dozen. So we contributed to the numbers a lot," he said.

Although Te'o is still learning the Chargers' scheme and terminology, he said one thing never changes.

"For the most part, it's football. You tackle the guy with the ball. When you think about it that way, it's pretty simple," he said.

Te'o recalls being an upperclassman at Notre Dame and counseling freshmen with words that apply to him now.

"No matter where you are, no matter what level you're at in football, whether it be the NFL, college or Pop Warner, it's still football. I think as long as young players grasp that, and understand that, that they're going to make mistakes, it's part of the learning process. But to learn that the field is still the same length, touchdowns are still worth the same amount of points, I think you find a lot of comfort in that and start to relax and that's when you start to blossom into the player that you are."



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