Manning fitting right in with Bengals
MAY 27, 2014 7:01p ET
CINCINNATI -- There were footballs being thrown in the air at Paul Brown Stadium Tuesday morning and no one was worried about where anyone else spent their holiday weekend.
The Bengals opened up their organized team activities -- spring football for the NFL big kids -- Tuesday inside their home stadium. Andy Dalton was taking snaps as the first team quarterback, not that that is a surprise. There was no hoopla for this first day, just business.
That's one of the things Danieal Manning likes about the Bengals. Manning, a safety, turns 32 this August. Age is not a deterrent factor for the Bengals secondary. Darqueze Dennard, Dre Kirkpatrick and George Iloka are the future for the back line of the defense but that future has to play its way onto the field. It isn't given a spot.
Manning signed a one-year deal with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent in April. He's a player with 91 starts in the NFL. He's coming off a broken leg that cost him the final 10 games of last season with Houston. In other words, he should fit right in with a secondary group that thrives on people underestimating its ability to perform despite age or injury history.
"I always say that if a defensive back can make it past his thirties and he's fairly healthy, that's a positive," said co-defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, who coached Manning the last three seasons in Houston. "He's seen it all from a schematics point of view. When they're young they're playing on physical ability. When they're over 30 they've got some of that stuff left but they're mostly playing with their head. If a guy can make it to his thirties, he's a valuable player."
"Coach Lewis was talking in the meeting today about enjoying the moment, and that's what I'm doing," said Manning. "I'm not just here for the ride. I want to be more than just a contributor for this team. I want to be able to stick around with these guys."
Manning hasn't yet been cleared for full participation in the OTA workouts but he's doing everything else. He was a second-round pick of Chicago in 2006 and helped the Bears win the NFC title that season. He's been to the playoffs four times in his career, including helping Houston beat the Bengals in 2011 and 2012.
His knowledge of the Bengals from those experiences, his relationship with Vance Joseph and a conversation with former Bengals cornerback and Houston teammate Johnathan Joseph before signing gave Manning a good feel for what he getting with the Bengals.
There isn't much buzz nationally about the Bengals right now. Losing in the first round of the playoffs each of the last three years is a genuine buzz-kill. That's from the outside. From the inside, there are greater expectations. That's what drew Manning to Cincinnati.
"This team from the top down, we have the quarterbacks, the running backs, the receivers and the O-line, then you can do the same thing with the D-line, linebackers and safeties and corners," said Manning. "It's a great feeling that the guys get along so well. You don't get that a lot. You can ask guys around the league, you don't get that type of camaraderie along with that type of competition and the kind of experience of a team that this organization has put together."
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