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Chicago Bears' Sherrick McManis pushing for a bigger role on defense

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Last night against the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago Bears trailed 10-3 at the end of the first half. After a quick 3 and out by Chicago to start the third quarter, the Dolphins were looking to build on their 231 to 147 yardage advantage. Miami was moving the ball fairly well all game long, while the Bears were looking for a spark.

On the Dolphins' fifth play on their first series of the 2nd half, Chicago cornerback Sherrick McManis gave the Bears that park.

On a 2nd and 8 from Miami's own 28 yard line, Dolphin running back Mike Gillislee raced around the left side for 25 yards before being stopped by McManis. But he wasn't only stopped, he was stripped of the ball, then McManis finished the play by hustling to recover the fumble.

With a brand new coaching regime in place for the 2015 Chicago Bears, there comes new eyes evaluating the holdover players. Bears that couldn't crack the lineup under Marc Trestman's watch have an opportunity with John Fox running the show.

Sherrick McMannis is making the most of the coaching change by getting reps as a reserve corner and playing some at nickleback during training camp. Last night he not only had the forced fumble and recovery, he also had a pass defended and 4 tackles while playing 27 snaps on defense.

He only played 2 snaps on special teams, but seeing as that's where he's made his money in the NFL so far, I'll assume his 3rd phase work increases at some point. Head coach John Fox has liked what he's seen from McManis so far.

"He's a competitive young guy," says Fox. "He's a guy who made his name in this league as a special teams ace - so have a lot of great defensive players in our history. I always like it when a young man competes. He made a nice pass break-up on third down that comes to mind. We'll tell when we watch tape. He's a guy we like that had a good game."

McManis, who is from nearby Peoria, Illinois and who attended Northwestern University, was acquired by the Bears on August 31st of 2012. He was originally a 5th round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2010 and he made a name by playing special teams. He only played 31 snaps on defense during his 2 year stint in Houston.

While playing for Lovie Smith during the 2012 season with the Bears, he never saw the field on defense, but he continued his solid special teams play.

During the 2013 and 2014 season, McManis continued being a special teams stalwart, but he still struggled to break the line up on defense for head coach Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. He only managed 12 defensive snaps in 2013 and 46 last year.

McManis is looking to get on the field in 2015 for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

"I'm very determined," McManis said. "I'm determined like this every year, honestly. Just to be out there trying to compete, do my special teams thing, and also to show them that I can play corner, or that I can play nickel, just to help the team in any way that I can."

If McManis continues to make plays at camp and during the preseason games, he'll give Fangio another viable option for his secondary.

As a 27 year old, 6th year pro, McManis knows his time his now. "It's about getting opportunities and capitalizing on those opportunities. Making plays. Just competing. Just trying to get better."