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Manti Te'o Emerging On and Off the Field

Get behind the scenes of Training Camp with exclusive practice preparation photos.

Manti Te'o's goals heading into his fourth training camp were simple.

Continue to improve and emerge as a leader on defense.

He's well on his way to accomplishing his missions as Head Coach Mike McCoy summed up his play thus far with one word.


Whether it's dropping into coverage to break up a pass, snuffing out a run in the backfield or mentoring a young inside linebacker group, number 50 is in the midst of one of his best training camps.

"(I'm) very pleased with Manti (in) not only his play, but in the leadership aspect," McCoy continued. "(He's) speaking up more and being vocal. I think that just comes with experience. The more comfortable you are in the system (then) the more confident you play.  Playing next to Denzel (Perryman) and everybody up front, the more confidence you have (then) the more vocal you become.  He has done a nice job."

Despite his strong start to camp, Te'o remains unsatisfied as he has high aspirations for his 2016 campaign.  Still, he acknowledges he's been playing at a high level, and attributes it to one thing in particular.

"Confidence.  It all comes back to confidence.  I've gotten back to the basics of the game and (am) not worried about the extra stuff.  I'm focused on trying my best to stay healthy.  I trained hard.  I trained extremely hard this offseason, and people are getting a glimpse of it.  I wanted to give myself my best opportunity to be successful."

Te'o has displayed his improved comfort dropping into coverage over the first two practices this week.  After breaking up a pass intended for Antonio Gates on Monday, his tight coverage on Hunter Henry in the back of the end zone deflected the ball into the air and lead to a Dwight Lowery interception during Tuesday's camp.

"It's about knowing my responsibilities, and knowing why I've got to be in certain places.  Where's my help at? Knowing that, and where the vulnerabilities of a certain defense are, I think I'm able to anticipate a lot more.  By anticipating better, I'm able to make a lot of plays.  And going against those guys helps me get better.  I'm always going against Antonio Gates.  I'm always going against Danny Woodhead.  If you don't get better going against those dudes, you must be doing something wrong.  Going against them gives me confidence.  I know I'm not going to win every time, but I know I'm getting better."

As McCoy explained, Te'o's play is only half the equation as the inspirational linebacker has been a leader on and off the field.  As vocal as he is getting his teammates into position before the snap, he's been there to provide invaluable support in the locker room and during meetings. 

"I'm an inclusive leader," he said, describing his style.  "What I mean by that is, I like to make each and every member of our defense feel important; because they are.  I want everyone to understand they are so important to our success, not only on our team, but especially (for) our defense.  I want everyone to have that swagger.  I want everyone to have the confidence where they are saying, 'I'm the man.'  When you all have that belief and start to play together, you can see that in the defense." 

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