With Manti Te'o out, Chargers rookie LB Jatavis Brown adds playmaking ability

Filling in for Manti Te'o, Jatavis Brown finished with six tackles -- including two for a loss -- and two pass breakups in 31 defensive snaps. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS -- The San Diego Chargers lost one of their most experienced players on defense with the Achilles tendon tear to inside linebacker Manti Te'o, ending his 2016 campaign.

But San Diego gained perhaps one of the most explosive playmakers on the field with rookie Jatavis Brown replacing Te’o in the lineup.

With Te’o out against the Indianapolis Colts, Brown put his skills on display with a strip-sack late in the first half that defensive tackle Caraun Reid scooped up and returned 63 yards for a score.

Brown finished with six tackles -- including two tackles for a loss -- and two pass breakups in 31 defensive snaps against the Colts.

“I think I did my job,” Brown said, when asked how he played against the Colts. “I think I did good overall. But at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough to get the win, so we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Brown said his inexperience and lack of playing time should not affect his production on game day.

“It really doesn’t matter to me,” Brown said. “I get mental reps a lot, shadow guys in practice and ask questions. It’s just like I’ve been playing the whole time.”

Brown already had earned a role as an inside linebacker in San Diego’s sub package in passing situations. But with Te’o out, the Akron product will be inserted into the lineup next to second-year pro Denzel Perryman, who will handle defensive playcalling duties.

“He’s one of those players that you’re going to see has a bright future in this league,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “He’s got a ton to learn. But Jatavis is a guy that whenever you walk into the facility, he’s always looking at [Microsoft] Surface studying film after every practice. He loves the game of football and you love the way he works.

“I’m very pleased with what he’s done. He’s got a long ways to go. He’s made some mistakes early on in the season, but he’s got a bright future with our organization and I’m very happy to have him.”

Even though he played at a smaller Division I college, Brown was a very productive player at Akron. He was the MAC’s defensive player of the year in 2015, finishing with 116 tackles -- including 19.5 for loss -- 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles his final season in college.

A team captain, Brown filled up the stat sheet. He finished his career at Akron with 340 tackles -- including 40.5 tackles for loss -- 16 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and an interception.

Selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft, the attraction for the Chargers in Brown was his game-changing speed. At 5-foot-11, 227 pounds, Brown ran a 4.47-second, 40-yard dash time at the NFL regional combine. So speed is an asset for the Florida native.

Perryman believes that Brown is ready to fill the void left by Te’o.

“It’s a next-man-in mentality,” Perryman said. “We were out there communicating like we started out the game. He’s a great player.”