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Rivers: Te'o just one of the guys

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego 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."
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