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.