On the day he traded up seven spots to draft Manti Te’o, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco perked up not only while discussing Te’o but the anticipated pairing with Donald Butler.

Telesco described Te’o, selected 38th, as a “first-round player” who “fits what John Pagano wants to run” with San Diego’s defense.

Then Telesco mentioned the fit with Butler, the fastest defender in Pagano’s 3-4 front that's built to free up both inside linebackers.

“He’s going to complement Donald Butler really well,” Telesco said. “We really are excited about it. Those two guys are really interchangeable. They can both play (each inside spot). They both can play three downs. So, it’s going to give John some flexibility with those two guys.”

What Telesco didn’t envision, however, was each linebacker suffering a severe injury this summer.

Finally, the blueprint is taking shape on the field—which is putting a smile on Te’o’s face.

As excited as Telesco seemed last April about the Butler-Te’o combination, Te’o seemed more excited last week when Butler returned from a groin injury that had nagged him often since Week 2.

“Having him back in there? Oh, it’s big,” Te’o said.

Te’o praised Butler’s stand-ins, Andrew Gachkar and Reggie Walker, who each contributed to victories. However, the duo had just one start between them entering this season, where Butler had made 28 starts, all next to Takeo Spikes, a mentor and 215-game starter.

Te’o had played in 51 games at Notre Dame. Preparing for this year’s draft, the Chargers awarded him high grades for his football intellect and leadership.

But after missing all but nine snaps of the preseason and then three games to open the regular season, Te’o was already challenged before lacking Butler’s assistance.

“When Donald was out, it was the biggest growing part for me, not having him in there to tell me what to do, to make sure that I knew what I was I doing – (having) to really learn it by myself,” Te’o said.

“Now that Donald’s back in there, I have all that knowledge now, and then he just adds the little things, the little things that help me make certain plays,” he said. “He has the experience; he has the knowledge.”

Butler returned from a three-game hiatus Sunday to play all of the defense’s 60 snaps against the Broncos.

In the first half, both Te’o and Butler committed a harmful miscue in pass coverage. But in the second half, they helped to hold the NFL’s highest-scoring offense to seven points.

Butler’s speed seemed to allow Pagano to alter tactics. Butler didn’t get home in his nine blitzes but created an up-the-middle presence the Chargers had lacked. Te'o, drafting off Butler, sometimes launched delay blitzes.

After the Broncos built a 22-point lead, the Chargers succeed more with their pass rush and coverage. Sometimes, they made Peyton Manning hold the ball longer.