Ricky Manning: Good as Gone

I still can’t figure out what caused Ricky Manning Jr.’s dramatic fall from grace.

Manning was signed prior to the 2006 season to shore up a Bear secondary that had been torched in the previous year’s playoffs. The Bears thought so highly of him that they gave up their third-round pick for the right to sign him as a restricted free agent. The Panthers, his former team, thought so highly of him that they declined to match the Bears’ offer. Whispers of character issues were heard.

The very night Manning signed the contract, he was arrested for assaulting a college student at a Denny’s near the UCLA campus. The infraction would cost him a short NFL suspension during the 2006 season.

Despite the arrest and suspension, I felt that Manning at nickelback was a key part of the 2006 Bear defense.

Last season, Manning was eased out of the nickel, being replaced by of all people linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer. And recently the Chicago Tribune reports that Manning went off on the coaching staff.

Manning is clearly close to being gone, and I can’t figure out what caused his fall from grace. We all know that by game 4, the Bears will be desperate for bodies in the secondary, so I sure hope they don’t give him away as they did Chris Harris last year, and regret the move later.

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