Manti Te'o back at Chargers practice

Updated: June 9, 2014, 9:58 PM ET
By Eric D. Williams | ESPN.com

SAN DIEGO -- For the first time since undergoing offseason surgery to repair a broken foot, San Diego Chargers middle linebacker Manti Te'o was a full participant in practice during organized team activities at Chargers Park.

Before Monday, Te'o had been relegated to working with team trainers on a side field while his teammates competed in 11-on-11 drills.

"He's right on schedule," San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. "We're working hard to get him back out there on a full-time basis of doing things. But we've had a plan for him, with what he's gone through. So we're just taking it one day at a time with him, gradually working him into things. And will get him into the best shape possible as quickly as we can."

Te'o missed the first three regular-season games after suffering what was initially diagnosed as a sprained foot during a preseason game in August against Seattle. However, after his rookie season, Te'o had surgery in January to fix the issue.

In his first practice back, Te'o picked off a pass after a deflection by cornerback Shareece Wright. The Notre Dame product said he was pleased to be lining up alongside fellow inside linebacker Donald Butler.

"Oh yeah," Te'o said. "It's way better than running gassers, that's for sure."

Te'o said that mentally, he's farther ahead with a year under defensive coordinator John Pagano's system.

"You have a year under your belt, so you know what's going on," Te'o said. "You know what to expect and what's expected of you. And you just come in and work hard."

Te'o said he's down 5 pounds and hopes to play at around 239 pounds compared to about 244 pounds last year.

"A lot of people think I'm heavier because I'm bigger," Te'o said. "But I'm lighter. I feel good. I feel in control, and that's something as a football player that is very important -- to feel that you're in control of your body."

And now that his foot feels better, Te'o said he'll work on improving his speed and quickness in the lead-up to training camp at the end of July.

"I wanted to lean out, and just more explosive and stronger," Te'o said. "Obviously, it was a little trickier with my foot. So we really focused on the muscles around it and making sure it did get the work necessary. And when my foot started to progress and get better, I was able to do more things on my feet."

Eric D. Williams

ESPN San Diego Chargers reporter

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