Chicago Sun-Times

Back to Plan C at nickel back

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Welcome to Plan C at nickel back.

It probably should not be a great surprise to anyone that Brandon McGowan will miss the remainder of the season to undergo surgery on his left ankle. He missed 25 regular-season games over the last three seasons with various injuries. McGowan twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter Sunday at Carolina, injuring it on a kickoff return. His loss will also be felt on special teams where he was a four-phase contributor.

With McGowan heading to injured reserve that means Danieal Manning will likely have the opportunity to win back his job as the nickel. Manning was Plan A when Ricky Manning Jr. was phased out at the start of the offseason program. The coaching staff moved to Plan B after the third preseason game, moving McGowan over from a starting role at strong safety to nickel back. That lasted all of two games and that brings them to Plan C.

"We're very comfortable with Danieal playing," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's always been one of our guys, someone has to start. We're real comfortable, Danieal has played a lot of football around here and again we feel real comfortable with him playing again."

The club had been high on McGowan. A restricted free agent, he was tendered at the mid-level of $1.417 million. That right there made his demotion in late August a surprise. It also made it clear how the club felt about Danieal Manning. Considering how injuries disrupted the secondary last season, this needs to be watched closely.

Check back for more later on.

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12 Comments

Not a huge loss in terms of talent and production from the nickel spot, but definetly hurts the secondary's depth. However, Daniel Manning is young, experienced and fast so maybe he finally reaches his potential because of this development. The Bears only play nickel consistently when they think the pass will hurt them more than the run. So considering the run was their weakness last weekend, maybe we should keep Hillenmeyer out there more often and keep the third corner on the bench.

This is bad. McGowan has been known to be involved in a lot of stupid penalties and is not the best in coverage, but he's fast, aggressive, always around the ball carrier and last season racked up a good # of tackles. And most of all, he beat out Danieal for the spot!

Don't get me wrong, Manning could very well be one of the top 5 athletes on this squad, but man does he make bad decisions. I really, really hope that he finally shapes up and gets some smarts.

Some of us were really troubled by the decision to cut Ricky Jr. and here it is, coming back to bite us in the A$$. Just like letting Chris Harris go b/c Archuleta came in and McGowan was going to be the primary backup at safety (even though he had an injury history), this was a troubling decision.

at least we dont have to worry about him getting hurt anymore.

The loss of McGowan is a tough loss to a safety position that sorely needs some stability. Similar to last season, when Mike brown, Nate Vasher and "Peanut" went down. The secondary never recovered (not to say that McGowan's earned that recognition) and it only added to the defenses problems. This position never seems to stay healthy long enough for any cohesion to take place. Now there is Kevin Payne. Besides, if they were really confident in Manning, wouldn't they have started him instead? I think his loss (although he's only contributed sparingly) will hurt the Bears far more in terms of his value as an up and coming starter/special teams contributor. As usual, only time will tell. Go Bears!!!!

D. Manning will get first dibs but this should also allow Corey Graham and perhaps Trumaine McBride more oppotunities to see the field on the Defense...

McGowan won't be Back. This is his third serious injury in (3) season. A bit like Mike Brown but Brown was a high draft pick with unquestionable importance to this Bears team. McGowan is an undrafted safety who was demoted to the nickle package cause he was not a very good safety.

Maybe the Bears will go jumbo like they did in 2006 and bring in (3) safeties for the nickle group. Brown, Payne and Steltz sounds good to me.....

Brandon McGowan played some pretty good football for the Bears late last season, so the Bears knew what they had in McGowan, this is probably why McGowan got the 1.417 million dollar pay day, I think also it was for depth at the safety position. Going into camp, the Bears didn't know a lot about Kevin Payne, other than what they saw of him during his short lived rookie season. Chicago knew Payne had nice size 6-0 212lbs for the position, and a reputation for being a hard hitter. Kevin Payne came into camp and showed the coaching staff he was a legit safety, and well..better than McGowan. This is why McGowan got his demotion. Kevin Payne is a good safety leading the Bears in tackles. I know the fact a safety is leading in tackles isn't necessarily a good thing, but none the less, Kevin payne is still leading the Chicago Bears in tackles. As far as McGowan, the next logical place for him was at nickle, he is now injured, enter Daniel Manning. Hopefully staying at one position, Manning will be able to handle the nickle position. The next question is, who will replace McGowan on the 53 man roster? Maybe Zackary Bowman, or some safety on the waiver wire? I know one thing, with Mike Brown getting up there in age, and now McGowan's durability problems, the safety position needs to be a top priority going into day one of next aprils draft. Maybe Missouri's William Moore? A good small school player is Louisiana states Curtis Taylor, we all know Angelo likes them small school players, especially from Louisiana, and hey, Angelo has had luck with them, Tillman, Chris Harris [I know I know, he should have kept him], and now Kevin Payne. As a Bear fan, its never to early for draft watch [just kidding] GO BEARS!!

Mark my words- Corey Graham will be the starting nickel in the near future, play well, and the position will no longer be a subject of discussion.

I think Trumaine McBride is a good football player. He makes things happen on the football field.

Sucks to lose McGowan for the season and especially when it came after his worst game to date; he's been much better his career than what he'll be remembered for in the Carolina game. This does open up a roster spot for either a waiver wire player or a practice squad player. My vote goes to Brandon Rideau - size, speed, hands, and a knack for the big play which we are lacking at this point at WR.

Good luck to McGowan in his rehab and hopefully he can come back next season stronger and if not in Chicago somewhere else!

It will be Steltz or Manning, and it is a big loss because the Bears are living with there Nickle pakage this year. This weak it's not a big deal but next week against the Igles they better have that position secured, cause they will probably play a lot of nickle against them. Manning or Steltz what a choice, one more injury at saftie and the Bears are in real trouble back there.

This isn't good, D. Manning tries stripping ball carriers instead of first wrapping up.

I think what will help Manning the most in his re-emergence is the health and play of Mike Brown. He was the missing factor in both of Manning's seasons, and having a sound veteran who is an extra coach on the field will help him get better by leaps and bounds.

He has all the talent to succeed, and apparently Wilkes is not the guy capable of bringing it out of him. Brown might be. Let's give him a chance to get established. Good thing is that Tampa will probably focus on the run, which keeps Hillenmeyer on the field, and they will throw in 3rd and long

He needs to step up, but let's give him an opportunity to do so. He played pretty well in his times as a free safety, when he was allowed to play there the entire season. Sure, he made some mistakes, but so do Briggs and Urlacher. He will get smarter with time, and will be able to react rather than think. But special teams take a hit by both McGowan's loss and Manning's move back up the depth chart. Manning was the punt gunner against Carolina because of his speed and physicality. We will have to find someone to take his place on that side. Graham has emerged as a solid special teams gunner, but we need two of them to maintain our spot as the best coverage teams in the NFL.

We can weather this storm as long as we don't lose another safety...if Payne goes down, we have to move Manning back to safety, and promote one of the other CBs to the nickel, and they may not be ready.

I still think you move Vasher to the slot in nickel, and put Graham on the outside and have two physical corners on the edges, and let Vasher roam and watch the QB...

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 17, 2008 4:36 PM.

McGowan out for the season was the previous entry in this blog.

Wednesday wrapup: Bears charting plan to replace McGowan is the next entry in this blog.

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