Manning ready for task of improving secondary
Danieal Manning grew up in Corsicana and starred at Abilene
Christian before spending his first five NFL seasons with the
Now the safety is back in the state he loves, hoping to help the
Houston Texans turn around the league’s worst pass defense.
”It’s a dream come true,” he said of playing for the Texans.
”I was planning for this for a long time. I couldn’t ask for
Still, he knows that getting the secondary on track in Houston
won’t be easy. The Texans allowed more than 267 yards passing a
game last season which was key in the team finishing a
disappointing 6-10 and failing to make the playoffs yet again.
He thinks one ingredient to success could simply be bringing a
winning attitude to this team that has finished above .500 just
once in its first nine seasons.
”I just want to help the guys around here believe that we can
be playing for a championship,” he said. ”That’s the one thing –
we’ve got to get the mentality changed around here. They’ve got the
talent all around, from offense, defense, coaches – there’s just
nothing else you can ask for. Guys just got to continue to
Manning started each game last season for the Bears and finished
with 72 tackles and an interception. In 2009 he had 92 tackles, a
sack, safety, interception and two forced fumbles.
But his statistics don’t tell the entire story of why the Texans
are so high on him.
”I like his passion for the game,” coach Gary Kubiak said.
”When we studied him playing, he really loves to play. He’s a
fiery guy and has been successful.”
He’s excited to play with cornerback Johnathan Joseph, another
new Texan, whom Houston hopes can pair with Manning to make the
secondary a strength of this team. Manning believes the experience
that he and Joseph bring to the group will help the younger players
develop this season.
The pair has some catching up to do after spending the first few
days watching from the sideline while waiting for the new, 10-year
collective bargaining agreement to be ratified. They were happy to
finally be allowed to practice with their new team for the first
time on Thursday afternoon after the CBA was ratified, even if it
was only in shorts without helmets.
”It felt good,” Manning said after Thursday afternoon’s
practice. ”I’m glad to be out there officially and running around,
sweating up and communicating.”
First-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is looking
forward to taking advantage of Manning’s versatility this
”He’s a good player,” Phillips said. ”The more good players
you have the better you can do – actually the more things you can
do, too. He gives you the ability to play man to man with a free
safety which a lot of free safeties can’t.”
Manning is aware of the reputation Houston’s secondary earned
last season with its terrible performance and wants to help change
the way people view the group.
”These guys have to wear that chip on their shoulders, so I’m
going to take it with me also,” he said. ”I’m going to develop
the same type of attitude that these guys have that we want to go
around the league and prove guys wrong.”
The Texans also hope Manning can contribute on special teams. A
dangerous kick returner, Manning averaged 24.7 yards a return last
season with a long return of 62 yards.
The signings of Manning and Joseph were a factor in Houston
having to restructure the contracts of linebacker DeMeco Ryans,
receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end Antonio Smith to get below
the $120.4 million amount set forth in the new CBA this week. Ryans
said it was important to do for the good of the entire team.
”Whatever I can do to help the team – on the field, off the
field – it doesn’t matter,” he said. ”We’re all working toward a
goal and that’s winning and if it takes moving something around, it
isn’t a big deal to me.”