For the last three practices, including yesterday’s scrimmage against the Indianapolis Colts, the Bears have used McManis as the first-team nickelback.
Following rookie safety Adrian Amos’s elevation to the starting lineup, McManis’s promotion is another example of a coaching staff willing to give players with upside an opportunity to shine – instead of clogging the roster with underperforming veterans.
Two-time Pro Bowler Tim Jennings has been almost invisible for most of the off-season and appears to have lost a step. In steps McManis, a 27-year-old special-teams ace hungry for a shot to play defense.
“I came in this league definitely trying to make a name for myself on special teams,” McManis said. “I think I’ve done that through these years. This is my sixth season and I’ll continue to do that, but I’d also like to play corner. I look for that opportunity as well.”
McManis is going to get that opportunity the next three preseason games. If he shines in the slot, and uses his length to his advantage, he’ll emerge as a defensive starter for the Bears this season.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.