Richard Wade, one of our friends and the Editor-in-Chief of SB Nation's Bolts from the Blue on the Los Angeles Chargers, was kind enough to answer a few questions about one of the new additions to the New Orleans Saints: Linebacker Manti Te’o.
I've got to get it out of the way first - what, if any, carry-over effects were there over the phantom "Catfish" girlfriend in the NFL? Did this present any distraction to Te'o or any teammates as far as official reports are concerned?
The catfish story was dead in San Diego by the time he got through his first training camp. And even then it did not seem to represent much of a distraction. There were not a ton of people covering the Chargers and those who were seemed more interested in maintaining access to the team than anything else.
Te'o hasn't played a full healthy season since entering the NFL in 2013. Have the rash of injuries he's suffered been related and a cause for concern for Saints fans? Or are they just an unlucky coincidence?
Manti lacks ideal size for the position and has a tendency to break down over the course of a season (or even just half of one). He will probably always struggle with foot and ankle injuries for that reason and because of the abuse he has already sustained.
What is the strongest aspect of Manti's game?
Manti has a great football IQ. He always seems to know where the play is going and where he needs to be.
What would you say is the area he could most look to improve?
The problem is that Te'o lacks the strength and athleticism to make that football IQ pay off. He misses a lot of tackles because he's almost always in position or just out of position to make them. Unfortunately, he often cannot finish the play.
If the Saints already have locked in an ILB this offseason, would you see Te'o sliding over to one of the OLB spots or would he be used as more as a back-up ILB and special teamer?
I honestly cannot even imagine Te'o trying to play at outside linebacker. He's too small, too slow, and frankly just not strong enough to hold up. He's a rotational guy on the inside of the defense and he needs a lot of help to be able to produce for you at all. As for special teams, I would be worried about that exacerbating his noted injury issues.
Thank-you, Richard, for taking the time to talk with us! Saints fans, make sure you check out Richard’s work over at Bolts from the Blue. You can follow them on Twitter at @BTFB_Chargers and you can follow Richard @RichardWade. Of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.