NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers says Manti Te'o is just one of the guys. To the media, though, Te'o is clearly more than just one of the guys.
With a large contingent of writers, broadcasters and photographers gathered and leaning on his every word, Te'o spoke during a press conference as the club kicked off its three-day minicamp at Chargers Park on Tuesday.
"We're all out here for the same reason. We're out here to play ball," Te'o said. "I'm lucky and very excited that I've had the opportunity, as with everybody else on the team, to put ourselves in the position to help our team win."
The Chargers are banking on Te'o to immediately contribute to that goal after trading up and taking the much talked-about former Notre Dame linebacker with the 38th pick overall in the draft in April.
Te'o is confident that he'll immediately contribute when the Chargers kick off the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Houston Texans.
Te'o said his biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with tight end Antonio Gates on the field.
"It's very difficult," Te'o said. "With Antonio Gates, not only does he run crisp routes, but he changes it up on you. He changes his get-offs and changes how he comes out of breaks. For a defender, you always have to play him honest and always have to keep your feet moving. Always have to win with leverage. As each day goes by, I'm getting better at it.
"Coach (Mike McCoy) and the organization had a plan for me and I think that plan is just to prepare me the best way for the season. We're all here for football. I think that's the bottom line. The plan was for me to focus on football and focus on getting my head in the playbook. Just trying to make that transition as quickly as possible. I'm thankful that I've had the time to focus on the plays and focus on what goes on on the field. That's helped me each day."
Te'o said he no longer is distracted by the controversy involving a hoax and a dead girlfriend that dogged him after Notre Dame lost the national championship to Alabama in January. He called San Diego the "perfect place" to move past the distraction and added that his new teammates have also helped make the transition smoother.
"We have a saying in the defensive room -- 'Keep the main thing the main thing.'" He said. "I'm here to play football. I'm here to be the best Charger I can be. I'm not going to let anything get in the way of that."
Rivers said Te'o has handled the swirl of attention well. The Chargers' quarterback doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, blaming the media for continuing to flame the controversy.
"I thought he's had a good presence since he's been here," Rivers said. "I feel like he's got great instincts. He has a knack. There's certain things that I see from going against him and watching the tape that you can't coach. It's just instincts. He has that ability that's hard to coach.
"He's one of the guys. He hasn't been treated any differently than any of the other guys. He hasn't acted any differently than any of the other guys. He's lived up to everything thus far that I think was expected of him, both on the field and off.
"I'm still wondering what the story is, to be honest with you. I don't know what you guys keep asking about. I don't know where the distractions come from. I don't see it. The story is so old and tired I would figure y'all would have moved on to something else by now."
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker, the team's first-round pick, is getting some work at right guard. Fluker, like any rookie, is being challenged in absorbing a new system and terminology. Coach Mike McCoy said there is no cause for alarm regarding Fluker, and that different combinations are being tried.
King Dunlap, who was penciled in to be the starter at left tackle before the team signed Max Starks, is also working at right tackle. Jeromey Clary, the team's starter at right tackle last year, has been shifted inside and is running with the first team at right guard. But McCoy has nothing but praise for Fluker.
"(He) works extremely hard in doing everything the way you ask him to do it," McCoy said.
--Inside linebacker Manti Te'o said the knowledge the players possess, and not necessarily the quickness, is the biggest difference from the college game to the NFL.
"Everything is about technique," the former Notre Dame star said. "The speed, there are guys that are faster, but for the most part the speed isn't the biggest difference. It's how everybody is just technically sound, and for young guys, you've just got to learn that you can't just run off blocks and you can't just run through a hole. You've got to use techniques when you do the simple things. It's those guys who are great at this game that have mastered those little things."
--Quarterback Philip Rivers is a big fan of running back Danny Woodhead; Woodhead came over as a free agent this offseason from the Patriots. In Woodhead, the Chargers have a versatile back in the mode of a Darren Sproles.
"I don't like to compare players," Rivers said. "But he is super dynamic."
--Wide receiver Vincent Brown continues to impress in drills as he returns from a broken ankle. Brown could be the team's slot receiver.
--Marcus Gilchrist, a cornerback last year, is working at strong safety.
--With cornerback Derek Cox missing some time with a minor, undisclosed injury, Johnny Patrick has been getting some first-team reps.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've always studied and worked hard this time of year, but it's different when you have an offense that's totally new. That's been certainly different, but a lot of the things that have worked in the past I've stuck with as far as routine, and I feel like we're headed in the right direction." -- Quarterback Philip Rivers on the progress the Chargers are making under new coach Mike McCoy.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR Seyi Ajirotutu (not tendered as RFA).
--RB Jackie Battle (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Curtis Brinkley (not tendered as RFA).
--LB Gary Guyton (not tendered as UFA).
--C/G Rex Hadnot (not tendered as UFA).
--S Corey Lynch (not tendered as UFA).
--G Reggie Wells (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Demorrio Williams (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--T D.J. Fluker (1/11): $11.4M/4 yrs, $6.6M SB.
--LB Manti Te'o (2/38): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Keenan Allen (3/76): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Steve Williams (5/145): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Tourek Williams (6/179): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Brad Sorensen (7/221); 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Danario Alexander: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
--RB Ronnie Brown: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Richard Goodman: ERFA; $630,000/1 yr.
--K Nick Novak: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--LS Mike Windt: Potential RFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Deon Butler: Not tendered as RFA by Seahawks; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Derek Cox: UFA Jaguars; $20M/4 yrs, $5.25M SB.
--T King Dunlap: UFA Eagles; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Dwight Freeney: UFA Colts; $8.75M/2 yrs, $3.25M SB/$4/75M guaranteed.
--FB Chris Gronkowski: Not tendered as RFA by Broncos; terms unknown
--LB Thomas Keiser: FA Panthers; terms unknown.
--G Rich Ohrnberger: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Johnny Patrick (waivers Saints).
--TE John Phillips: UFA Cowboys; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--T/G Chad Rinehart: UFA Bills; terms unknown.
--T Max Starks: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
--RB Danny Woodhead: UFA Patriots; $3.5M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
--DE Jarius Wynn: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
--LB Antwan Barnes: UFA Jets; $4M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
--S Atari Bigby (released).
--CB Chris Carr: Not tendered as UFA/Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Antoine Cason: UFA Cardinals; $1.5M/1 yr, $600,000 SB/$1M guaranteed.
--NT Aubrayo Franklin: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Jared Gaither (released; post-June 1 designation).
--NT Antonio Garay (released).
--G Tyronne Green: UFA Patriots; terms unknown.
--CB Quentin Jammer: UFA Broncos; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Vaughn Martin: UFA Dolphins; $4M/2 yrs, $750,000 guaranteed..
--TE Randy McMichael (released).
--LB Shaun Phillips: UFA Broncos; $1M/1 yr.
--TE Dante Rosario: UFA Cowboys; terms unknown.
--LB Takeo Spikes (released).
--WR/KR Micheal Spurlock: Not tendered as UFA/Lions; terms unknown.
--G Louis Vasquez: UFA Broncos; $23.5M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$13M guaranteed.