Manning Charged with Assault

In an off-season filled with off-the-field problems, the bad news just keeps coming for the Bears. Cornerback Ricky Manning will be charged with one count of assault next week, leaving his personal and football future in doubt.

Manning's arraignment was scheduled for Thursday, but has been pushed back to May 26th. The charge stems from an April 23rd incident in which Manning was allegedly part of a group that attacked a man at a Denny's near the UCLA campus, where he played in college.

The group then left the scene and Manning was pulled over in his SUV shortly thereafter. He will be charged with one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. Already on probation, he faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

"When things are squared out I'll be more than happy to talk about it and tell my side of the story so you can find out what really happened," Manning said after the Carolina Panthers declined to match the Bears five-year deal worth $21 million for the restricted free agent.

Manning's former UCLA teammates Maurice Drew and Tyler Ebell also allegedly took part in the melee. All three were released on $30,000 bail. The Jacksonville Jaguars took Drew, a running back, in the second-round of last month's draft.

Although Manning's record has been clean since joining the NFL, during his time at UCLA he was charged with assault in 2002. He remains on probation from the incident until Dec. 15 of this year. He's also subject to a possible suspension or fines from the league for violating the personal-conduct policy.

The five-foot-8, 185-pound Manning is expected to be the team's third corner behind starters Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman. During the rookie mini-camp earlier this month, secondary coach Steven Wilks suggested that Manning could even challenge Tillman for a starting job.

"He's going to bring a lot to us from the nickel standpoint, but not only that, he's a guy that's going to be able to push ‘Peanut' (Tillman) to make him better as well," Wilks said. "That's what we want, competition guys making each other better."

In 48 career regular season games, including 26 starts, Manning has nine interceptions to go with four more in the postseason.

Following the draft, general manager Jerry Angelo backed Manning publicly and was confident he'll be in uniform when the season starts.

"The information that we got we feel very solid about," Angelo said. "It's unfortunate. But we feel, let that run its course. In the end, everything should work out well."

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