Ben on the Bolts: Te'o feeling the stress?

After returning to practice for the first time since early August, Manti Te’o was asked this week if he could finally clarify exactly what injury he had suffered to his foot.

Sheepishly, remembering parental lessons about telling the truth, Te’o looked away from the questioner as he said, “Um….sore.”

Manti Te’o has obviously been well-trained by Mike McCoy not to divulge any injury information that could possibly give an advantage to a Chargers opponent.

This policy is starting to drive me a little crazy…but not because I’m a frustrated member of the media. I believe the Chargers are doing Manti Te’o, and possibly other players, a huge disservice by not being a little more forthcoming about injuries.

Already, I’ve seen fans link Te’o with ne’er-do-well left tackle Jared Gaither in my Twitter feed and e-mail inbox. Hopefully, most of them are exaggerating, because I don’t for a minute believe that Te’o is milking his injury or afraid to get on the field. But when the coach says Te’o will “miss the week” in early August, and he still hasn’t played a game in mid-September, people will start to fill the blanks with increasingly wild speculation.

When Mike McCoy was hired on Jan.15, he announced that part of his “Plan” (I think it deserves to be capitalized at this point) was to have “better communication” with San Diego Chargers fans. In reality, McCoy offers fans and media as little information about his team as realistically possible considering the NFL’s mandate to have coaches available to answer questions 5 times per week.

Maybe that’s why U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee described McCoy’s news conferences as “disingenuous” in the morning paper.

A caller on my radio program told me that he works for the company that makes the walking boot Te’o wore for several weeks following his injury. He said that type of boot is commonly used to stabilize stress fractures in the foot. If Te’o really did have a stress fracture (as I strongly suspect), rather than a foot sprain, as the team announced in August, it would make his 4-6 week recovery right on the mark.

Had the Chargers simply said “Manti Te’o has a stress fracture, and will miss 4 to 6  weeks,” I’m not sure how the Houston Texans or Philadelphia Eagles would have used that information to their advantage in game preparation. But it would have saved the rookie from some unwarranted speculation during his absence from the field.

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