Chicago Sun-Times

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TAMPA, Fla.--Lovie Smith will be partaking in some of the buildup for Super Bowl XLIII.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Smith will join his close friend Tony Dungy on stage Friday night in a gospel celebration at the University of South Florida.

It is the 10th year the event has been held, and the recently retired Dungy will receive an award.

"We dance, we sing, we praise and we go on for a long time," says event founder Melanie Few. "We're not going to let Snoop Dogg have all the fun. This is the happening party.''


Ricky Manning Jr. had his contract terminated this afternoon by the Bears.

Because he is a vested veteran, he is free to sign with any club and chances are good he will have a job in the next week.

The agent for veteran offensive tackle Fred Miller said he expects him to make a decision today between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Bears.

Harold Lewis said the Bears have offered Miller a one-year contract for the minimum of $830,000, and the Bucs have an offer on the table that is believed to be richer. Miller's family lives in the area and he has business interests here.

The Bears are also expected to part ways with cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. later today, one way or another. Manning was told to leave Halas Hall after he was removed from a meeting before practice. The Bears will grant him his release or trade him.

Check back later for more information.

Coach Lovie Smith confirmed that veteran cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. did not attend practice Tuesday morning.

When asked if Manning was still a member of the team, Smith replied, "He's not here. He didn't practice. If there is something official to announce, you'll hear with everyone else."

Manning did attend team meetings at Halas Hall this morning.

The media was only able to view a portion of the special teams practice this morning.

There was no sign of veteran cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. on the field.

That means:

1. Manning is not involved in special teams and showed up on the field after the press was ushered inside.

2. He developed an injury at some point Monday (he looked fine playing four square in the locker room after practice yesterday).

3. Something else is going on.

We'll look into it when practice ends.

The perception last season was that Ricky Manning Jr. was overlooked in a big way when seventh-round pick Trumaine McBride was used primarily as a starter in Nathan Vasher’s absence.

It was reality in the sense that starting is a big deal. Whose in the lineup on a week-to-week basis speaks volumes about who the coaching staff believes in most.

But the statistics paint a somewhat different picture. Manning was on the field for 544 of the 1,076 defensive snaps last season. McBride? 584. About the same. It marked a decrease in defensive snaps for Manning of only 55 from 2006, or a little less than one game. Interestingly, Manning was actually on the field more for the Bears in 2007 than he was in 2006 because of an increased role on special teams.

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