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Chargers' Te'o gets to work

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:32 a.m. HST, May 11, 2013

SAN DIEGO » Manti Te'o practiced for the first time with the San Diego Chargers on Friday determined to push the infamous girlfriend hoax and his lackluster national championship play into the past.

"I'm here to play football," the Chargers' second-round draft pick said on the opening of the rookie minicamp. "I'm not focusing on what is going on on the outside. I'm worried about what we're doing here in San Diego and I'm looking forward to when the veterans come in on Monday."

The Chargers traded up in the second round of last month's NFL Draft to select the standout linebacker from Laie. He arrived in San Diego with plenty of credentials and a back story that has transcended sports.

He slipped out of the opening round of the draft in part because of a poor performance for Notre Dame in the national championship game against Alabama.

Te'o also became the butt of national jokes after it was revealed he was duped into an Internet romance with a girlfriend he never met and who never actually existed.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy wasn't interested in talking about Te'o's past.

"We're moving on. He's one of ours now and we're going to win a lot of football games with him," he said.

Te'o looked comfortable in the roughly 30 minutes the practice was open to the media. He was inserted into the inside linebacker spot after being in the front-and-center in the stretching part of the workout.

"You feel like you are a freshman again," last year's Heisman Trophy finalist said about his new surroundings at Chargers Park. "Football is still football, but there is different terminology and verbiage. That is the biggest change for everybody because we're used to things being called a certain way."

Te'o is already in the mix for a starting job. The Chargers, under rookie general manager Tom Telesco, have rid themselves of many veteran players.

That leaves a hope at inside linebacker opposite starter Donald Butler, and Te'o will be given every chance to fill it.

"When you take a player like we did, where we did, you want them to come in and play," McCoy said. "We are going to plug him in there on Monday and he will be in that first huddle with everybody else."

Te'o acknowledged some first-day butterflies.

"I think I was more excited than I was nervous," said Te'o, who will wear No. 50 as an homage to the 50th state. "But I was definitely a little nervous just to get out here and start a new chapter of my life."

Te'o grabbed headlines when it was revealed he was duped into an Internet romance with a girlfriend he never met.

And to make matters worse, Te'o struggled in Notre Dame's blowout loss in the national championship game to Alabama and its offense full of future NFL draft picks.

But now he's a rookie again. It's a good time to start fresh.

"Just got to keep your head down and know you are a rookie," he said. "Keep your head in the playbook, work hard and show that you really care about what you are doing and your job.

"Obviously, you got to earn the respect of the veterans and that will come in time. And I'm sure it will come soon."

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clum56 wrote:
I wish bruddah Manti all da best with the Chargers...
on May 11,2013 | 02:51AM
kahuku01 wrote:
I'm aware that this article is from the associated press and the writer had to mention the unfortunate hoax and Alabama game, which I certainly know is done with and would like the media to move on with his fresh start and a new chapter of his life. Evidently, the SA did print this article but yet couldn't edit the mentioning of his nationally talked about past or take the time to write an article on a new start for Manti. SA, you people are not doing any justice for Manti and it's about time that you take it upon yourselves to stop mentioning about his past and at least have the decency to provide him with support for his new fresh start. News from the media is not always providing the right perspective but just a bunch of trash by a narrow minded writer.
on May 11,2013 | 05:01AM
paradiddle wrote:
Sorry kahuku01, but his past is indeed a part of the story. It is relevant because it explains possible reasons he was not a first round draft pick and part of his determination to make good. Be glad that the news stories no longer reports that his father claimed to have met "the girlfriend" that perpetuated the hoax. Background info (good, bad or indifferent) is a normal and pertinent part of new articles. That said, I do wish Manti the best and that he shows his abilities to make it as a pro football player.
on May 11,2013 | 05:44AM
kahuku01 wrote:
IRTpasradidle: Thanks for your feedback and I too, would like to see Manti make it as a pro football player and fulfill his dreams. My remarks pertaining to his past and how, why and when he got drafted is irrelevant especially when many based it on his performance of his last game and the unfortunate hoax. But, there's always a reason for everything and maybe it was meant for him to be drafted in the 2nd round to a west coast team and be closer to home. After hearing the same remarks for five months, one becomes bored of listening and watching the same repetitive news and hopes that the media would move on and come up with the positive side for Manti. That's all!
on May 11,2013 | 07:13AM
alohachef wrote:
No matter who, what, when, where, and why there will always be skeptics, negative comments, unfavorable and slanted media reports. The only way to put an end to all this is to go out and prove everyone wrong. Those close to Manti, his family, friends, and community know who he is and what he is capable of achieving. Everyone else, "kulikuli waha."
on May 11,2013 | 10:33AM
Mana07 wrote:
Good think he is in SoCal so he can be near Lennay....What a lucky guy, his girlfriend is one of Maxim's hot 100!
on May 11,2013 | 04:03PM