Danieal Manning Rookie Diary: Entry 1

Not many fans had ever heard of Danieal Manning on draft day last April, but he's certainly got their attention now. With All-Pro Mike Brown currently on injured reserve, Manning is the best safety on the Bears roster. In his first Rookie Diary entry, Manning discusses the feeling of playing for a winner, the loss of Tommie Harris, and the importance of home-field advantage.

At this time last year, I hoped that I'd be with a playoff caliber team, but to have that actually happen seems almost like a dream. It's incredibly exciting. I'm definitely having fun with this.

There's quite a bit going on here at Halas Hall, all involved with the preparations for closing out the season and moving into the postseason period, and I'm definitely enjoying the chance to be part of it.

We got commemorative footballs today for our division win. I'm hoping those will be just the first of quite a few things like that we'll be getting during the next few months.

Personally, I am trying to improve my play with every game. Any time I am on the field, I want to be certain that I am making a positive contribution.

I am extremely fortunate to have as much playing time as I get every week. I use that as an opportunity to get better on technique. As a rookie, that's what you always need to be doing. It's a learning curve for all of us who came to the Bears this year.

I'm working right now on my cuts and my overall acceleration. Getting to the ball first is the main thing at my position. I'm also trying to refine my sense of what is happening out on the field. Things move pretty fast in the NFL, and it's important to be aware of exactly what is happening at all times. I also spend a lot of time studying film. You have to be able to anticipate your opponent's moves to be successful.

I'm also making myself return to fundamentals in terms of physical preparation. That is important at this point in the season. I realized the other day how as the year progresses, you tend to move away from the basics. You get a little tired, and the emphasis on technique tends to slide some. That is not a good thing when you're playing at the NFL level. Perhaps that is the reason I missed some of the plays I should have made last week. I plan to correct this immediately so I'm definitely back at the top of my game.

The other players have been tremendously helpful in assisting my progress. Whenever I need some advice, I am comfortable enough around them to ask any questions I might have. As a rookie, there's always some hazing, but overall, I have always felt that the veterans were there whenever I needed them.

From what I've heard from friends of mine who are also in the NFL, it's very unusual to have a team that supports each other as much as the Bears do. There's a feeling that we're all in this together. We go out of our way to help each other. There isn't any jealousy or rivalry within the team that I am aware of. I think that's is why you are seeing such positive results on the field every week.

Reaching the playoffs is a big deal for us. Home field advantage throughout would be huge, as well. That's what our goal is right now. As a player, you always want the crowd on your side and the other team's being the ones having to travel. You always feel better when you're playing in your backyard.

The Monday night game was a good experience for us, but I think we were all glad to be back here and to have a chance to rest a little bit. We're back up to speed now, working at practice now and getting ready for Sunday against Tampa Bay,

Losing Tommie Harris to injury was difficult, but the team is built to withstand changes like that. There are a number of different packages we can put in to compensate when necessary. I think that the adjustments we were able to make Monday against the Rams worked well for us. We'll be doing things similarly again this weekend.

My family is hoping to come in for the last home game. They're really excited about all that has happened. We've been talking a lot on the phone, and I really have appreciated their support. I had goals for my first year in the league, and to have achieved at least some of them is beyond what I had hoped for at this time last year. This rookie season has been amazing.

Mark Anderson usually writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for BearReport.com, but Danieal Manning was happy to take over this week.

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