Manti Te’o has been back at practice for a week now and showing signs of life, finally! After missing both starting inside linebackers last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans the Chargers might be getting back some much needed help in the middle of the defense. Te’o last played a total of nine snaps during the pre-season opener on August 8th against the Seattle Seahawks. From then until August 19th Te’o had been walking around in a boot recovering from a sprained right ankle. Three weeks later, the Chargers would face the Houston Texans without Te’o and instead Te’o would not practice for six weeks removed from the injury.
A sprain in the ankle is nothing to laugh at, but also is not the type of injury to isolate a player from the game for so long. Many athletes deal with injuries throughout the season and most continue to play week after week despite the pain.
One possibility the Chargers organization might have been doing is shielding Te’o from the spotlight. Te’o had already been forced to suck up his pride and address the media with the humiliation of the girlfriend hoax and to step onto the field not playing to his full capacity would have shaken his confidence. Te’o has been through a lot even before playing his first NFL game. The media frenzy was on full attack regarding the poor play by Te’o in the 2012 BCS National Championship game. The Chargers already had been protecting Te’o from overexposing him to the media before pre-season and these precautionary measures could have been a wise decision to make sure the Te’o was 100% ready to take the NFL by storm. If Te’o had stumble out the gate during the Houston Texans game, there would have been no doubt more Te’o bashing.
There really doesn’t need to be anymore critics picking at Manti Te’o. Nevertheless, because of his situation there will always be criticism when he messes up. It’s time for Te’o to just play ball and get back to the game.