Danieal Manning Rookie Diary: Entry 2

Danieal Manning had a lot thrown at him as a first-year player, but for the most part, he performed quite well. He survived his first 16-game schedule and is ready for more. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Manning discusses the increase in intensity come playoff time, the relevance of the first Seattle game, and ignoring what is written in the papers.

This definitely is the most exciting part of the season that we're heading into right now. The intensity level is up, and we're getting ready to go on Sunday. To my way of thinking, it's huge that we have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. I don't think you can ever underestimate the value of that.

Our job will be to make the big plays early and to be sure that the crowd stays in the game with us from that point on. I'm not sure that the fans realize how important their support is to us, particularly as we reach this win-or-you're-gone situation.

What I like about our home crowd noise is that it can completely disrupt the rhythm of the opponent's offense. If their count is not in sync, that certainly increases our chances of making a big play against the Seahawks. Also, the energy of our fans adds intensity to our play. You'd be surprised how important that factor can be.

I don't view it one way or another as far as an advantage for us that Matt Hasselbeck has had some interceptions recently. Just because he's played that way in past games doesn't mean he'll necessarily do that against us. My job will be to get in there and create that kind of an opportunity for us. We're all going to be out there trying to make good things happen on every play.

The fact that we played Seattle and won earlier this year doesn't mean that much either. They are a different team now, and we are, too. Players have gone out, and new guys have come in. For Seattle, they didn't have their big-play guy, Shaun Alexander, when we saw them last time. That should make a difference in the strength of the Seahawks offense now.

We'll be missing Mike Brown and Tommie Harris, both very important parts of our defense, but Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are in good shape, which should be an advantage for us. You always want as many of your starters as possible, particularly when you are heading into the postseason.

The coaches have done a fine job of keeping us fresh, both mentally and physically. The weekend off certainly helped me as far as getting some much-needed rest for my body. But I feel that my mind has never left the game. I'm thinking about what I need to do all of the time. I don't feel pressured or tense, just eager and ready to go. I'm very focused right now. And for that, I thank the coaches.

It wasn't a problem for any of us to put the Green Bay game behind us. You have to be able to do that in the National Football League. What you always want to do is concentrate on the positives. You build your next game from that. We've taken what was good from that game and kept it in our mindset. The rest, we've forgotten.

There has been a lot of publicity about this first playoff game, comparing it to the time last year when the Bears went against Carolina and lost. That's why most of us don't read what's written about us in the sports section very often. It isn't productive. I see no relationship between that game and this one. You are talking about two different teams, two different years. This team this year plans to go out there and win. We're driven and willing to do whatever is necessary to get that result.

Right now, we're building our game plan. We're concentrating on films and on basic schemes. It's a complex process. We watched all of the playoffs from our couches at home, but that was seeing things as fans - as spectators - and not as a future opponent. Now it's time to get back to work and get down to business. We're going to take a lot of time to break that Seattle-Dallas game down play by play, then formulate our counter plans.

One thing I think all of us learned from the Seahawks' win is that the ultimate outcome of a game can depend on crazy things sometimes. You want to be paying attention to every single detail at all times. You just never know when something will come right out of the blue and bite you.

Looking back on my rookie season, I'd say this has been an incredible experience. Getting drafted by Chicago was tremendous. That was something I'd worked toward for a long time. My other goal was that I'd hoped to make it to the playoffs my first year, and here we are. It's been fun and exciting. It's really a dream come true. And there's still more ahead of us. I don't see any limits in how far this team can go. I can't wait to get out there this Sunday and contribute to a Bears win.

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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