Sherrick McManis has established himself as one of the Bears' core special teams players. But the Northwestern product isn't satisfied with that role.
Entering his fourth season with the Bears after two years with the Texans, McManis hopes to contribute regularly at cornerback as well for the first time in his NFL career.
|Sherrick McManis intercepts a pass in the Bears' preseason opener last year versus the Eagles.|
With a new coaching staff taking over and two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman no longer with the Bears, the competition at cornerback figures to be wide open in training camp.
McManis will battle for playing time at a crowded position in Bourbonnais with Kyle Fuller, Tim Jennings, Al Louis-Jean, Alan Ball and Demontre Hurst, among others.
"I just feel like the opportunity is there for me," McManis said. "As long as I keep improving, that's all I can control and if the coach sees fit and feels I'm in a good spot for it I think I'll get the chance to play.
"The new coaches came in saying that no one's entitled to a spot. That's what I believe, so I'm just coming out there working and trying to give everything I've got."
McManis was selected by the Texans in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. After two seasons in Houston, he was traded to the Bears on Aug. 31, 2012 in exchange for fullback Tyler Clutts. In three seasons in Chicago, McManis has recorded a team-leading 38 special-teams tackles.
McManis has appeared in 62 career games with his only start coming Nov. 24, 2013 in St. Louis in place of the injured Tillman. McManis played sparingly on defense in a couple games last season but hopes to earn a more permanent role at cornerback.
"This is going on Year 6 for me," McManis said. "I don't necessarily have a whole lot of experience playing cornerback in games per se, but I do have experience playing in the league. I think I've grown as a player with patience, being able to respond and trust myself as well as just being a pro and doing things the right way."
McManis hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Bear Corey Graham, who was primarily a special-teams standout before becoming a starting cornerback in the sixth year of his career.
"A prime example for me is Corey Graham," McManis said. "He was a great special-teams player and then found his way onto the field on defense. It's really just opportunities and making sure that you're ready to take advantage of them when they're presented to you."
Bears coach John Fox has seen a lot of players become regular starters after first paying their dues and developing on special teams. So it wouldn't be a big surprise if McManis ultimately contributes as part of coordinator Vic Fangio's defense.
"It's fairly normal," Fox said. "Most good defensive players I've ever been associated with, that's where they got their first break and that's where they earned their keep. There's a great carryover; performing well on special teams correlates pretty well to playing well on defense.
"[McManis] has been a guy that's caught my eye. He's adapted well to Vic's defensive schemes and we'll see where that goes."