Denzel Perryman, Manti Te'o create dynamic duo at LB for Chargers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the first players to text Denzel Perryman when the San Diego Chargers selected him in the second round of this year’s draft was fellow linebacker Manti Te'o.

Also a second-round selection by the Chargers, circa 2013, Te’o wanted to make sure his new teammate was welcomed with open arms.

“He told me if I ever needed anything, to just call him,” Perryman said. “I was supposed to come out the next day, but something happened with my flight and I couldn’t make it. But ever since then, we’ve just been communicating and talking. He wants the best for me, and I want the best for him. And we just push each other so we can both be the best.”

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco’s vision of how the two young linebackers would mesh on the field is finally taking shape.

And the reason it has taken some time for chemistry to develop is simple, both have missed games due to injuries. Perryman missed two games with a strained biceps, and Te’o missed four games with an ankle issue.

But now that Te’o and Perryman are healthy and have a good grasp of what defensive coordinator John Pagano wants them to do in his system, they’ve been turned loose as every-down players, with good results.

In the pair’s second start together, they combined for 13 tackles and an interception. Perryman led the Chargers with seven combined tackles, while Te’o finished with six tackles and an interception that Philip Rivers turned into a 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates for the Chargers.

“We just feed off of each other’s energy,” Te’o said. “We go out there and communicate and make plays. The trust factor is there. Everybody trusts him. Everybody trusts me. And we understand that we have to stuff the run up the middle in order for this defense to be successful.”

San Diego’s defensive playcaller, Te’o is the instinctual, cerebral linebacker that plays with anticipation. Perryman is fast and physical, making tone-setting plays that help get the Chargers’ defense off the field.

“Those two are going to be good if they can stay on the field,” safety Eric Weddle said. “Manti’s instinctual. He’s more vocal, more fluid and athletic. And Denzel’s physical. He’s explosive and he’s a thumper. We’ve seen it anytime that he plays. He’s going to hit you.”

The Chargers held the Jaguars to 102 yards rushing. Not bad considering that San Diego had allowed 126 rushing yards a game entering Sunday’s contest.

With Te’o and Perryman playing together on a more consistent basis, San Diego’s statistics against the run should continue to improve.

“Every opportunity for us to go on the field is a learning opportunity,” Te’o said. “It’s an opportunity for us to get better or worse. We’re never going to stay the same.

“I’m very excited about where our defense is going -- the intensity and tenacity that we play with. There’s a lot of things that we do good, and there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to work on. But we’re never satisfied, that’s the best part about this defense.”