Bears Shuffle Their Secondary

The Chicago Bears are planning to use a safety at cornerback as an injury replacement, a plan that didn't work the best in their last game, but this time they face the Minnesota Vikings and not the Green Bay Packers' passing attack.

Instead of starting veteran nickel back Ricky Manning Jr. at cornerback in place of injured Nate Vasher Sunday night, the Bears went with second-year safety Danieal Manning, who got experience at corner a week earlier.

"We think that gives us the best chance to win," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "All decisions we make are based on that. That will probably be the same lineup we'll go with this week."

That lineup includes Brandon McGowan starting at Manning's free safety spot and Ricky Manning remaining as the nickel corner, covering the slot receiver, in passing situations.

The plan could not be considered a success Sunday night, given that Danieal Manning was toasted by Packers wideout Greg Jennings for a 41-yard touchdown in the second quarter and picked on with success for much of the evening.

"He didn't have a great game," Smith said of Manning, who started 14 games at safety as a rookie and three after Mike Brown was hurt in this year's opener. "He played about like most guys play in the first time out moving from safety to corner. He'll get a lot better. He played better at the end of the game than he did starting the game, just like most of the defensive players."

With Vasher expected out at least another two weeks with a groin injury, it appears Danieal Manning will have more opportunities to learn on the job.

"Whenever a guy doesn't play as well as he needs to," Smith said, "with more reps and experience, they normally get better the second week."

When Vasher returns, the Bears will have to decide whether McGowan, who had a team-best 13 tackles against the Lions and a victory-preserving end zone interception against the Packers, keeps his starting job or is replaced by Manning.

"We can't wait to get Vasher back, and we'll tackle those questions then," Smith said. "Right now, we're just trying to put the best group we can out there."

NOTES

  • QB Brian Griese had by far the best game of any Bears quarterback this season, completing 15 of 25 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 97.8. The previous high was Griese's 68.3 in Week Four.

  • RB Cedric Benson was handed the ball 27 times, which is what the Bears have been saying it will take to get him and the running game on track, but he still managed just 64 yards with a long gain of 11 yards.

  • TE Desmond Clark caught a 34-yard TD pass for the game-winning score and his second TD in two weeks. Clark had three catches for a team-best 62 yards and is second on the team with 19 catches and 231 yards.

  • WR Bernard Berrian left the game with a toe injury in the second half after catching just one pass for 10 yards, by far his worst game of the season.

  • WR Muhsin Muhammad had his third one-catch game of the season (for 17 yards) and has a total of 10 catches for 102 yards.

  • WLB Lance Briggs had a career-best 19 tackles, including 15 solos.

  • LB Brian Urlacher got his first interception of the season.

  • DT Tommie Harris got the Bears' only sack on Brett Favre.

  • TE Greg Olsen led the Bears with four catches, and his 57 yards were second on the team. He caught his first NFL TD, a 19-yarder.

  • PK Robbie Gould had FGs of 44 and 36 yards and is 8-for-9 on the season, with the only miss coming on a 52-yard attempt that was blocked.


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