Te'o made a tackle on running back DeMarco Murray for a 10-yard gain on the opening play, and just missed notching his first career sack on a Tony Romo rollout, with teammate Kendall Reyes hauling down the Dallas quarterback for a 4-yard loss instead.
“Initially, I was way more relaxed than I was that first preseason game,” Te’o said. “I felt more comfortable, and that had to do with the preparation we all did. I was just relaxed, and focused. And luckily I got a tackle my first play in, and that got the rest of the jitters out. After that, it was just football.”
Te’o had not played in a game since San Diego’s preseason opener Aug. 7 because of a sprained foot. Predictably, San Diego coach Mike McCoy limited the Notre Dame product’s reps. Te’o split time with fellow linebacker Reggie Walker. In limited duty, Te’o finished with three tackles.
“It was his first game going back in there, doing certain things,” McCoy said. “And we had certain personnel packages we wanted to play him in. ... He was just excited to get back out there again. It’s great to have him back on the defense.”
McCoy provided little information on his injured players, saying he will have more information on those guys on Sunday.
Pass-rusher Dwight Freeney suffered a quad injury in the first half, and did not return. Offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger suffered a groin injury, returned to the game, but was replaced in the second half by Stephen Schilling.
Cornerback Derek Cox suffered a knee injury in the second half, and was replaced by Richard Marshall. The Chargers played without both starting cornerbacks. Cornerback Shareece Wright missed the game due to a hamstring injury. Johnny Patrick started in his place.
Down three starters, San Diego’s offensive line played well. Philip Rivers was sacked only once by a Dallas defensive front that came into the contest with 13 sacks.
Starting left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle) did not play. They were replaced by Michael Harris at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard and Ohrnberger at right guard.
“The emphasis this week was on protecting Rivers,” Harris said. “And I feel like we did a good job of that. That’s a big, physical group. But I’m just proud of our guys, they stepped up, especially Johnnie Troutman at left guard.”
Rivers also pointed to Troutman as a guy who played well. In the locker room after the game, Rivers highlighted a conversation he had with Troutman after he threw a 56-yard touchdown to Gates in the final quarter with just under seven minutes left in the game.
“I kind of just told him you can’t be hurt,” Rivers said, when asked about his conversation with Troutman on the field. “You’ve got six more minutes, and then you can be hurt for a little while, but you can’t be hurt. Because there were a couple times where he looked like he was going down. And I was kind of like, ‘Hey, Johnny -- no, that’s not an option today.’”