Though he has been well-recognized as one of the best long-snappers in the NFL, Pat Mannelly has spent his entire 14-year career with the Bears where he likes it -- in the shadows and out of the spotlight.
Even when he suffered a torn left ACL against the Chargers that ended his 2011 season and snapped his franchise-record streak of 147 consecutive games played, his misfortune was relegated to a glorified footnote when news of Jay Cutler's broken thumb spread like wildfire about an hour after the game.
But Mannelly, who's still in his prime at 37, is back for his 15th season. And while he's still rehabbing his knee, he expects to be ready for training camp in July.
''Everything's going as planned,'' Mannelly said. ''Bobby Slater's doing a heckuva job getting me here. Still on track to be ready for training camp -- that's my goal.''
Mannelly might be the only player on the team who looks like he's doing more while sitting out practice than he does when he's healthy enough to participate. But while he's not participating in OTAs, he said he's on target.
''I'm snapping and running, working on more directional running as far as cutting and stuff like that,'' Mannelly said. ''I can snap, set and get out of my breaks and block people. I'm just going to need more reps and more rehab of just getting more comfortable doing it and more strength.''
Mannelly said he expects to be as good as he's been when he returns this season.
''You always are [concerned] after surgery. But the way rehab has progressed and everything, I feel great,'' he said. ''A lot of dealing with an ACL is getting your confidence back and that's coming back real good. I feel real comfortable.''