There is sure to be plenty of hullabaloo when the San Diego Chargers add the veterans into the mix of mini-camp on Monday. The anticipation surrounding the Bolts won’t be because much is expected from the team in the 2013 nor will it be due to any flashy coaching additions in the offseason. No, this eagerness is perpetrated by the presence of one individual and one individual alone: Manti Te’o.
Of course Te’o has been present for the past three days during rookie mini-camp with the team, but now that the veterans are joining the fray, many are excited to see just how Te’o and his new teammates mesh. By now everyone is more than aware (“tired” might be the better word) of Te’o’s off-field scandal of sorts with the fake girlfriend hoax that he endured during his Heisman-worthy senior season at Notre Dame. The young linebacker seems to have everything in perspective and has his mind focused on football.
According to U-T San Diego, Te’o said:
“I always stood by a quote that says hard work will beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I’ve never wanted to be that guy who didn’t work hard. I knew my work ethic was going to be the thing that pulls me through. As everyone knows, I’m not the fastest; I’m not the strongest. But I’m definitely one to work hard, and I try to outwork everybody that I go against. That’s usually been to my benefit.”
Showing that type of dedication to his craft and desire to get better is something that veteran players will certainly appreciate and respect. According to several reports following last month’s NFL Draft, at least two teams claim to have passed on Te’o in the first round due to his off-field ordeal. That never seemed to be an issue in San Diego as the Bolts quickly traded up in round two to make sure they landed the ultra-talented linebacker.
Eventually all of the noise about Te’o’s past will disappear if his present produces on the field. That is all that the veteran players in the locker room will care about as they just want a teammate who will work hard and help them win games. When asked about how he thinks he may be received on Monday, Te’o gave one of his best responses as he said:
“You’ve just got to keep your head down. Know you’re a rookie. Keep your head down; keep your head in the playbook. Work hard. Show that you really care about what you’re doing, about your job. Obviously, you’ve got to earn the respect of the veterans. That will come in time, I’m sure. But with what I’m going to do and with my work ethic, that will come soon.”
It’s hard to doubt a player with the on-field pedigree of Te’o after his impressive career in South Bend. There may be plenty of press anxious to see some sort of rift between the youngster and his veteran teammates, but that seems to be the furthest thing from his mind. Te’o is clearly focused on football, and his teammates will certainly appreciate that approach right away.