Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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52 SEPT. 19, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY MATT JONES A fter battling foot injuries during his first two NFL seasons, Manti Te'o stayed healthy in 2015 and put it all together. The San Diego Char- gers inside linebacker finished with a career-high 107 tackles, setting the stage for a huge 2016. When the Chargers broke camp in preparation for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, the former Notre Dame star was named one of five team captains, joining veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates, defensive lineman Brandon Mebane and safety Darrell Stuckey. Te'o is no stranger to the captain role. He wore the "C" on his jersey in South Bend, leading the Fighting Irish to the national championship game in 2012. "It's real humbling and I'm very, very grateful for the opportunity," Te'o told "And not necessarily because I get to wear that patch on my jersey, but the fact that my teammates trust and believe in me to lead this team. "I believe in myself that I'll do a great job, and the fact my teammates see that, too, and trust in me means a lot. That belief is what means the most." Te'o, 25, was named a team captain by head coach Mike McCoy for the final four games of 2015 after defen- sive tackle Corey Liuget was placed on injured reserve. The fourth-year player, who was a second-round pick in 2013, is now fulfilling his potential with San Di- ego. Though he's missed at least three games in each of his three NFL seasons, he's the type of leader that is suited to be a captain. "As far as Manti Te'o goes, few are able to command a room like the inside linebacker,"'s Ricky Henne wrote. "He has a natu- rally inspiring way of communicat- ing, and becoming a captain seemed to be a matter of when rather than if from the moment he was drafted." NFL NOTES • One of the biggest surprises of the NFL pre- season was former Notre Dame defensive end Romeo Okwara, who recorded three sacks in four games. His performances won him a spot on the New York Giants. An undrafted rookie, Okwara climbed the depth chart and made the team's 53-man roster out of training camp. He'll now add depth to a team that starts Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, and has experienced backups Owa Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn. Manti Te'o Named Chargers Team Captain Te'o battled injuries during his first two seasons, but made a career-best 107 tackles in 2015. PHOTO COURTESY SAN DIEGO CHARGERS Name (Years At Notre Dame) Pos. Current Team George Atkinson (2011-13) RB Cleveland Browns Robert Blanton (2008-11) DB Buffalo Bills Chris Brown* (2012-15) WR Dallas Cowboys David Bruton (2005-08) S Washington Redskins Sheldon Day (2012-15) DL Jacksonville Jaguars Tyler Eifert (2009-12) TE Cincinnati Bengals Matthias Farley (2011-15) S Indianapolis Colts Anthony Fasano (2002-05) TE Tennessee Titans Michael Floyd (2008-11) WR Arizona Cardinals Will Fuller (2013-15) WR Houston Texans Ryan Harris (2003-06) OT Pittsburgh Steelers J.J. Jansen (2004-07) LS Carolina Panthers TJ Jones (2010-13) WR Detroit Lions Ben Koyack (2011-14) TE Jacksonville Jaguars Kapron Lewis-Moore (2008-12) DE Baltimore Ravens Nick Martin* (2011-15) OL Houston Texans Zack Martin (2009-13) OL Dallas Cowboys Troy Niklas (2011-13) TE Arizona Cardinals Name (Years At Notre Dame) Pos. Current Team Louis Nix (2010-13) DL Washington Redskins Romeo Okwara (2012-15) DL New York Giants C.J. Prosise (2012-15) RB Seattle Seahawks Theo Riddick (2009-12) RB Detroit Lions Cody Riggs (2014) CB Tennessee Titans Kyle Rudolph (2008-10) TE Minnesota Vikings KeiVarae Russell (2012-15) CB Kansas City Chiefs Harrison Smith (2007-11) S Minnesota Vikings Jaylon Smith* (2013-15) LB Dallas Cowboys Ronnie Stanley (2012-15) OL Baltimore Ravens Golden Tate (2007-09) WR Detroit Lions Manti Te'o (2009-12) LB San Diego Chargers Stephon Tuitt (2011-13) DE Pittsburgh Steelers Chris Watt (2009-13) OL San Diego Chargers Ian Williams (2007-10) DT San Francisco 49ers Ishaq Williams (2011-14) DL New York Giants * Placed on injured reserve IRISH IN THE NFL As of Sept. 8

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