For Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o, it’s another dreaded summer rerun.
The Chargers play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, and just like last year, Te’o is skipping the third preseason game with a sprained foot.
”You want to be out there with the fellas,” Te’o said Friday. ”But I’ll be out there when I’m ready.”
This summer the injury is to his left foot. Last year, it was his right. That injury in his rookie year forced him to miss the first three regular-season games and the final three preseason games.
Te’o ultimately started 13 games and two more in the playoffs. The consensus was that he improved as the season progressed and he got further away from his foot injury, which required an offseason surgery.
Before his latest foot ailment, Te’o had enjoyed a strong camp.
”He was doing really well,” said John Pagano, the Chargers’ defensive coordinator. ”I think with the instincts, you see him being a lot more comfortable and able to go in and play the game – reading things and seeing things.”
Pagano mentioned a screen pass in the Chargers’ preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Te’o quickly retreated when recognizing the play to help limit its success.
”Everything has slowed down for him,” Pagano said. ”He has those great instincts and you see it out here on the practice field.”
Te’o, who leads the Chargers with 11 tackles in the preseason, didn’t practice all week and is wearing a walking boot.
Te’o didn’t say when he’ll play again. But when he does, he’ll be more at ease.
”I know what to expect this year and what is expected of me,” said Te’o, who had 93 tackles last season. ”I have a year under my belt so I have a level of confidence. So it’s good.”