The San Diego Chargers, as well as the fans, have been waiting patiently for the much-anticipated debut of rookie inside linebacker Manti Te’o. Though he was able to practice on Wednesday – for the first time in nearly six weeks – fans may still have to wait another week.
Te’o was still limited in practice and didn’t really test the foot much, in fear of risking a setback. The team won’t rush Te’o back and plans to work him back slowly. Head coach Mike McCoy admitted that Te’o still needs to get back into football shape and looked a little rusty in practice, which makes sense given all the time he’s missed.
Though there’s still a chance Te’o will be healthy enough to play this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, the more likely scenario is that he’ll make his debut on September 29 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Te’o played just nine snaps in the preseason opener before spraining his foot. He was originally only expected to miss a week of practice, but instead missed six as well as three preseason and two regular season games. Even with the rookie wall and the rust, Te’o, with his high football IQ and instincts, will be an immediate upgrade once he gets fully healthy.
Just two games into the season, the Chargers have already had a bit of a revolving door at inside linebacker. Bront Bird started in Te’o’s place week 1 and was horrific, while Bird was benched in week 2 in favor of Reggie Walker, who was slightly better. Te’o should slide right back into his rightful starting spot next to Donald Butler soon and have no fear of losing his job.
Meanwhile, Butler missed practice Wednesday due to a groin injury, but should be good to go this Sunday.