Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 38 Days with Danieal Manning

Chicago Bears, Danieal Manning
Chicago Bears, Danieal Manning / Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears, Danieal Manning
Chicago Bears, Danieal Manning / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Danieal Manning joins a loaded Chicago Bears defense in 2006 NFL Draft

After debating whether or not to declare eligible for the 2006 NFL Draft, Manning elected to pursue a professional career and was selected with the 42nd overall pick by the Chicago Bears during the second round. Manning was the first pick made by the team and was one of the two second-round players the team selected alongside Miami product Devin Hester.

Manning failed to graduate from Abilene Christian during his time as a player, a factor that led to his indecision regarding entering the draft. With 38 credits remaining on his degree, Manning swore to return to the school after his professional career and finalized this promise by donning the number 38 with the Chicago Bears.

Manning joined a Bears team that finished the year prior as the NFC North's champion and started almost immediately in a Lovie Smith-led defense that included a number of stars in Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris, Alex Brown, and Charles Tillman. At the free safety position, Manning finished his rookie campaign with two interceptions, seven pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and 70 total tackles en route to helping the team finish the regular seed as the number one seed in the NFC.

Manning started in every postseason contest, helping the team reach Super Bowl 41, where they met Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts. Despite having the fourth most tackles on the team, Manning and the Bears were not able to win the championship game and finished the season as runner-ups.

During the ensuing 2007 campaign, the Bears as a unit were unable to match their success from the previous season and finished last in the division with a losing record. Despite a lack of team success, Manning had a fairly productive season and totaled two interceptions, six pass deflections, and 79 total tackles.

The following year, Manning was moved to more of a reserved role on defense but had a great season as a full-time kickoff returner. With Hester manning the punt return duties (pun intended), Manning himself led the league in yards per kickoff return with 29.7. He also had an interception and four pass breakups on defense despite only starting in one game.

Over the next two seasons, Manning remained as the team's kickoff returner and worked his way back into the defensive lineup. From 2009 to 2010, Manning started 26 games in the secondary, where he totaled two interceptions, nine pass deflections, and 163 total tackles. On special teams, Manning totaled 1,560 yards in the kickoff return game.