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Bears plan to interview Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o waits for snap during second half Notre Dame's 21-6 wover BostCollege NCAA college football game

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o waits for the snap during the second half of Notre Dame's 21-6 win over Boston College in a NCAA college football game in Boston Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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Updated: March 23, 2013 6:34AM

INDIANAPOLIS — Starting Friday, teams can begin interviewing linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine. And for Manti Te’o — a combine headliner because of the strange fake-girlfriend hoax — that will include meeting with the Bears.

General manager Phil Emery said they’ll speak with the once-touted Notre Dame middle linebacker after being directly asked about Te’o on Thursday.

“Every individual is unique,” Emery said. “Believe me, there are unique stories across every college class. So is that unique? No. That is a situation and issue that has to be dealt with and worked through. Obviously, at some point, we will sit down and talk to the player about it and see where he’s at on it.

“That situation, as far as somebody having something that is different than what has happened to other people, I would say that is true with a good portion of this college class. Everyone, each individual is going to be unique, and they’re going to have their own unique situations with their family that they have had to deal with, off the field, on the field and situations that come up in life. It’s about how they handle it. Can they still produce and be a productive member of your team?”

Te’o’s draft stock has dropped since it was discovered that his girlfriend — the subject of numerous stories and said to be a source of inspiration for him — was fake and that he was the victim of a bizarre online hoax.

But the Bears hold the No. 20 overall pick and need to eventually replace Brian Urlacher, whose status remains unknown. Te’o, Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and LSU’s Kevin Minter are the only inside linebackers who are projected to be first-rounders. But Te’o (catfishing controversy) and Ogletree (DUI arrest) will be scrutinized.

Emery stressed that a player’s character is a big part of the Bears’ ratings. It was Te’o’s leadership qualities that made many project him as a first-rounder.

“You’re looking for leaders,” Emery said. “You’re looking for people who demonstrate leadership at least in some way, whether it’s by example or if that person can help pull others up and help bring the group up and perform at a higher level.”

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