How will Manti Te’o do this season? His rookie season had its ups and downs. He had moments where he looked lost and out of his league, but he cleaned some things up toward the end of the season gaining some confidence and started making meaningful plays.
Will he be able to build from last season? He has had the whole offseason to prepare. He didn’t get many opportunities in passing downs last year, which seemed like a questionable decision, but he could get that opportunity this time around. Te’o was good against the pass during his final year in college getting his hands on the football often. We will need that type of ability this year.
Will he get to be a 3-down linebacker? Kavell Conner was brought in during free agency to give him a little push and to bring some depth, just in case Te’o or Donald Butler goes down with an injury. He likely will get his opportunities to get on the field as well.
Te’o has to step his game up. He played last season through a foot injury, which then needed surgery at the end of the year. That had to hinder him a bit during the year. He won’t have any excuses to start out the year. He is healthy and ready to make an impact.
There were moments last season where he was overmatched. There were moments in which he was hesitant. There were moments where he was a few steps too slow. After a whole season in the league, the expectations will be higher. We need to see the impact plays from him. We need to see the interception, the tackles behind the line of scrimmage, the forced fumbles. We need him to be an impact on the field. He has that type of ability.
Tom Telesco saw things that he loved in Te’o and made the move up in the 2nd round in order to select his guy. This season is where Te’o proves to be a valuable player in the Chargers defense. This season is where Te’o makes that impact that we wanted last season. The time is now.