One Charger everyone wants to talk to, isn't talking.
Welcome to Week 2 of the Chargers' OTAs.
The Chargers created a stir over the weekend by agreeing to terms with Dwight Freeney. The veteran free agent will fill a giant hole left when Melvin Ingram blew out his knee during practice last week, and it is believed he is lost for the season.
So enter Freeney, although at age 33 and coming off a five-sack season, some wonder how much he has left.
But that prospect didn't diminish the excitement the Chargers had about securing Freeney.
"I told him I've been around a lot of awfully good pass-rushers," said John Pagano, the Chargers' defensive coordinator. "But not one of the premier pass-rushers to play the game."
Freeney is certainly that -- or at least he was. He has 107.5 career sacks in 11 seasons with the Colts, but his production has been in a steady decline. He's gone from 13.5 sacks in 2009, to 10 in2010, 8.5 in 2011 and five last year.
He'll also be asked to play in a 3-4 alignment, something he had to do last year in Indianapolis after his first 10 seasons had him in a 4-3.
But Freeney didn't attend Monday's practice, with the club saying he had a prior engagement.
The Charger everyone wants to converse with is Manti Te'o. But the celebrated linebacker from Notre Dame and a Heisman Trophy finalist has been deemed off limits by the organization, after speaking with the media following the first day of rookie camp.
Since then, he has been shielded by the team's public relations staff, and coach Mike McCoy.
"We have a plan for him," McCoy said. "He is doing a nice job and he will be out here when he comes out here."
Which translates into Te'o not being available until this summer's minicamp. Odd, in that Te'o was very comfortable in front of the media and seems a tad bewildered why he is being babied by the Chargers.
If staying out of the spotlight is the motivation, someone forgot to tell Te'o. He attended the Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women party last week in Hollywood, with Te'o's fake girlfriend earning the No. 69 spot.
McCoy said he was unaware Te'o went to the party.
The funny thing is Te'o is at ease with the media, with the Chargers looking as if they are babying him. While every veteran and every other rookie is available, Te'o is treated special.
"He is a young player and the organization has a plan for him," McCoy added again.
The football plan is for Te'o to start opposite Donald Butler. If Te'o can fill that spot, if Freeney can supply a push off the edge and if Cam Thomas can shine in his first year starting at nose tackle, the new-look Chargers' defense could be a team strength.
But first Freeney has to be seen. And at some point, Te'o to be heard.
The Chargers signed veteran tackle Max Starks and released Kevin Haslam.
Starks, 31, played his first nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and started all 16 games last year. He is expected to compete for the starting job on the left side with free-agent acquisition King Dunlap.
The Chargers drafted D.J. Fluker in the first round, but he's expected to start at right tackle.
Left tackle has been a sore spot for the Chargers since Marcus McNeill retired due to a neck injury after the 2011 season.
Starks tweeted: "Very happy to say that I will be joining @chargers family. Can't wait to get started and building towards a championship"
Haslam spent the 2012 season with the team, playing in five games with three starts after spending the first 11 weeks on the practice squad.
Coach Mike McCoy rode the roller-coaster of losing outside linebacker Melvin Ingram only to see the team land free-agent outside linebacker Dwight Freeney.
"It's great to add a solid veteran who brings valuable experience to our defense," McCoy said. "His proven pass-rush ability is a perfect fit for our defense."
Freeney's two-year contract is worth $8.75 million, which includes a $3.25 million signing bonus.
Gotta be smart to go to the University of California. Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen went there, but the third-round pick did something pretty dumb: he tweeted a picture of him wearing a Raiders cap. When playing for the Chargers, there are few bigger mistakes.
"I didn't mean for it to happen," Allen said. "I wasn't thinking about it at the time; I wasn't actually thinking about football at all. I was just going to grab a bite to eat. Eric (Weddle) gave me the rundown and it won't happen again."
Left tackle King Dunlap continues to work with the first team. The Chargers remain interested in free agent Max Starks, but were unable to strike a deal with him during his recent visit.
Marcus Gilchrist has been getting more work at strong safety than cornerback. "He is so versatile," defensive coordinator John Pagano said. "And that is something that helps us tremendously."
"He is so smart and so involved in the defense. He wants to know what everyone is doing."—Defensive coordinator John Pagano on his impressions of rookie linebacker Manti Te'o.
A closer look at the Chargers' picks:
Round 1/11 - D. J. Fluker, T, 6-5, 334, Alabama
With Philip Rivers getting sacked 49 times last year, it was clear the Chargers had to beef up their line. When unable to get one of the top three left tackles, they turned their attention to this road grader who was part of three national title teams.
Round 2/38 - Manti Te'o, ILB, 6-1, 241, Notre Dame
With a glaring hole at inside linebacker, the Chargers likely found someone to start opposite Donald Butler. Did Te'o's off-field distractions cause him to drop to the second round? Maybe, and the Chargers couldn't be happier.
Round 3/76 - Keenan Allen, WR, 6-2, 206, California
Looking for another weapon for Rivers, the Chargers landed Allen. He can stretch the field and could serve as a nice complement to Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander. He is coming off a knee injury, but the Chargers feel they have a potential playmaker.
Round 5/145 - Steve Williams, CB, 5-9, 181, California
Williams is undersized, but the Chargers think he might be able to work the slot position where he could possibly fight with Shareece Wright or Marcus Gilchrist for playing time. Williams left California a year early, so he's not only small but young.
Round 6/179 - Tourek Williams, OLB, 6-3, 260, Florida International
A Sun Belt All-Conference pick, Williams could supply a burst off the edge and could battle with former No. 1 pick Larry English for playing time. Williams had 46 tackles last year, with 14.5 being for losses and he had 6.5 sacks.
Round 7/221 - Brad Sorensen, 6-5, 229, Southern Utah
Sorensen isn't being considered as someone the team would groom to replace Philip Rivers, but as a player that might be able to push Charlie Whitehurst for the No. 2 role. He's more comfortable as a pocket passer and he threw for 23 touchdowns last year with 10 interceptions.
RB Jackie Battle had but 95 carries as his role was to be the lead blocker for Ryan Mathews and excel in short-yardage situations. Battle did have three of the Chargers' four rushing touchdowns and it remains to be seen if coach Mike McCoy will want a true fullback in his offense.
CB Chris Carr's return is iffy, depending on what the Chargers do with Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. Carr can also return kicks, but the Chargers aren't in a need there.
LB Gary Guyton was signed late in the year when the Chargers suffered a string of injuries. Hard to say if he returns, but he could, if the team needs to build its depth.
C/G Rex Hadnot was brought in for depth, but ended up starting. If the Chargers address needs along the offensive front, Hadnot could be hard-pressed to get an invitation to return.
CB Quentin Jammer is not expected to return. With his age and declining skills, the longtime Charger is probably done in San Diego.
S Corey Lynch played well when Atari Bigby went down. He had a knack for being around the ball and seemed to prove to the Chargers that he has a nose for the football and can shine on special teams.
TE Dante Rosario could be the benefactor with Randy McMichael released. Rosario has good hands and can block, and with Antonio Gates getting older, Rosario could see his playing time increase.
WR/KR Micheal Spurlock was an AFC special teams player of the week and returned a punt and a kick for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. Spurlock should stick.
G Reggie Wells was brought in when injuries wrecked the front line. He could return in a backup role.
LB Demorrio Williams is expected to be brought back after showing his knack for making big plays. Hard to believe, but Williams had twice as many touchdowns (two) as Ryan Mathews did last year. And Williams had another one wiped out because of a penalty.
(not tendered offers)
WR Seyi Ajirotutu (not tendered as RFA) has shown enough in his Chargers stints to at least get to camp. Whether he makes the team or not will be decided.
RB Curtis Brinkley (not tendered as RFA) could be out, as he's had numerous chances to prove his worth to the Chargers and has not been very impressive.
LB Manti Te'o (2/38): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Keenan Allen (3/76): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
CB Steve Williams (5/145): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
LB Tourek Williams (6/179): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
QB Brad Sorensen (7/221); 4 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Danario Alexander: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.
RB Ronnie Brown: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR Richard Goodman: ERFA; $630,000/1 yr.
K Nick Novak: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
LS Mike Windt: Potential RFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Deon Butler: Not tendered as RFA by Seahawks; 1 yr, terms unknown.
CB Derek Cox: UFA Jaguars; $20M/4 yrs, $5.25M SB.
T King Dunlap: UFA Eagles; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
LB Dwight Freeney: UFA Colts; $8.75M/2 yrs, $3.25M SB/$4/75M guaranteed.
FB Chris Gronkowski: Not tendered as RFA by Broncos; terms unknown
LB Thomas Keiser: FA Panthers; terms unknown.
G Rich Ohrnberger: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
CB Johnny Patrick (waivers Saints).
TE John Phillips: UFA Cowboys; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
T/G Chad Rinehart: UFA Bills; terms unknown.
T Max Starks: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
RB Danny Woodhead: UFA Patriots; $3.5M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
DE Jarius Wynn: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
LB Antwan Barnes: UFA Jets; $4M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
S Atari Bigby (released).
CB Antoine Cason: UFA Cardinals; $1.5M/1 yr, $600,000 SB/$1M guaranteed.
NT Aubrayo Franklin: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
T Jared Gaither (released; post-June 1 designation).
NT Antonio Garay (released).
G Tyronne Green: UFA Patriots; terms unknown.
DE Vaughn Martin: UFA Dolphins; $4M/2 yrs, $750,000 guaranteed..
TE Randy McMichael (released).
LB Shaun Phillips: UFA Broncos; $1M/1 yr.
LB Takeo Spikes (released).
G Louis Vasquez: UFA Broncos; $23.5M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$13M guaranteed.