While the injury news is far from completely optimistic for the San Diego Chargers heading into Week 3, the Bolts could be returning a starter to their lineup against the Tennessee Titans this weekend.
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd sustained a scary hit in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles that will keep him out for at least the upcoming week, but the returning face to the lineup will help soften the blow of his loss. Manti Te’o may not be catching any passes to help the Chargers make up for the loss of Floyd, but he will certainly help the defense keep points off the board and allow the Bolts some more wiggle room offensively.
It is far from a sure thing that Te’o will return to the field on Sunday, but he is at least scheduled to be back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since suffering a foot sprain in the team’s first preseason game. Bront Bird has filled in admirably for Te’o through two games compiling 15 tackles, but there’s no doubt the second rounder from this past April’s NFL Draft will provide a big boost to the defense. He and Donald Butler will put some serious fear in opponents trying to work the middle of the field against the Bolts.
One area where the Chargers have struggled defensively is getting players to the ground following short receptions. This showed up big in their Week 2 victory over the Eagles where innocent looking competitions turned into big plays down the field as the receiver piled up the yards after the catch (YAC). Limiting YAC will be a big thing for Te’o in his much anticipated debut for the Bolts whenever it happens to take place, and if he does suit up this week a big task awaits him in a similarly shifty back to San Diego’s previous opponent, LeSean McCoy, in Chris Johnson Week 3.
Te’o alone won’t completely cure what ails the San Diego defense, but his presence will certainly alleviate many of the tackling issues at or around the line of scrimmage. His instincts will sniff out plays before they develop and prevent would-be big gains from ever materializing. Even if his return to the lineup isn’t this weekend against the Titans, look for the Chargers to take a serious step up in class when this young tackling machine joins the lineup full-time this season.