The early returns on Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o were good.
But he knows everything changes when the veterans show up today, and his long road to assimilation into an NFL locker room begins.
As much as his playing ability, his fitting in will be a storyline this year after rolling into San Diego on a tsunami of attention about the fake dead girlfriend thing.
“You’ve just got to keep your head down,” Te’o said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “Know you’re a rookie. Keep your head down; keep your head in the playbook. Work hard. Show that you really care about what you’re doing, about your job.
“Obviously, you’ve got to earn the respect of the veterans. That will come in time, I’m sure. But with what I’m going to do and with my work ethic, that will come soon.”
Te’o’s hope is that the jokes stop after a short time, and he can earn respect with his play. The Chargers administration obviously thinks he’s deserving.
But after a weekend of running drills with fellow rookies, running the gauntlet of veterans ready to use the comedic material they’ve been saving will be different.