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Manti Te'o needs to 'prove himself,' one Charger says

The San Diego Chargers expect second-round draft pick Manti Te'o to step in as the starting inside linebacker next to Donald Butler.

That talk is premature, Butler says.

"I think a lot of people are jumping to conclusions," Butler told U-T San Diego on Friday. "He has to come in and prove himself as a starter. Obviously, it would be nice -- that's why you draft someone in the second round. We don't know how he's going to be in the NFL. I hope he comes in and he's a superstar. Hopefully we can create something that will carry us for the next four, five, six years."

Te'o will be the heavy favorite to start if only for the lack of legitimate competition. Jonas Mouton has been slow to develop since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Once Te'o gets to training camp, Butler expects the former Notre Dame star will "get some jabs" from other players about the fake dead girlfriend saga.

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"But that comes with being a rookie," Butler added. "He might get a little more because of his situation, but I'm sure he's man enough to handle it and really grow from it. I don't think it's going to be anything over the top. It'll be your normal rookie jokes."

If Te'o performs as well as Butler did last year, the fake girlfriend story will be a non-issue by the end of the season.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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