OTAs Chat: CB Danieal Manning

Danieal Manning had an up-and-down initial two years with the Chicago Bears, but he found a role last season as a nickel back and kick returner. Is his career as a safety officially over? Here's what the speedster had to say following Wednesday's OTA workout in this exclusive interview.

John Crist: You're now a fourth-year pro in the NFL, which is quite experienced for a return man. Why do you think punt and kick returners have such a short shelf life in this league, and why is it usually rookies and second-year players doing that job?

Danieal Manning: Because by that time, guys look around at the – I don't want to say the money situation. Most guys, when they play that long, they end up getting in starting positions. It's hard to get you back out there on kick return. Like, I know one guy that's big about that is Josh Cribbs. I've known him for a while with the Cleveland Browns. He's a starting receiver, so I don't think he's really returning kicks [anymore].

JC: The league has eradicated wedges in the return game, and wedge busters are also a thing of the past. What has special teams coordinator Dave Toub done to change the blocking assignments on returns, and does it have any effect on you as the return man?

DM: It's not any different. Coach Toub is great putting together schemes and things, but that's basically what we did also. We had a three-man wedge with other guys on the outside, but this year it's sort of the same. We've got a great scheme coming up, but I don't want to give too much away.

JC: You seemed to adjust well to the nickel back position last year, even though you were learning it on the fly. How much more can fans expect from you in that role now that you've put a quality year on film?

CB Danieal Manning
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

DM: You can never [have] nickel all the way down. Every year, there's something different. So every year, I'm programmed to learn more and more and more – as much as I can. So that's how I approach it every day.

JC: Watching the safeties perform in today's workout at Halas Hall, we saw a lot of Kevin Payne and Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks and Corey Graham. Is your career as a safety officially over, and are you okay with that?

DM: Yeah, I had to. It was a thing about communication with the coaching staff. If I was going to do what I needed to do at nickel, then I had to move on from safety. That's just the way it is. Nickel is just like a 12th starter in this defense. I couldn't do both anymore.

JC: You're going into the last season of the four-year deal you signed as a second-round pick back in 2006. Have you or your agent had any talks with general manager Jerry Angelo about a contract extension, or are you looking forward to free agency?

DM: To be honest, that's not my job. I don't even worry about that now. I'm just playing football. If I'm here, then I'm here. But I try not to worry about that.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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