As the Bears completely re-work their defense, Sherrick McManis is hoping he can ditch the "special teams ace" label.
McManis is a 27-year-old product of Northwestern and has been relegated mostly to special teams duty in his career, with only one start in five seasons.
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McManis got a chance to show what he can do in the Bears' preseason opener Thursday night at Soldier Field, leading the team with four tackles and adding a pass breakup, but it was his big play in the third quarter that turned the tide of the game.
McManis chased down Dolphins running back Mike Gillislee from behind and stripped the ball, then hustled down and recovered it to set up a field goal in the eventual 27-10 Bears victory.
McManis has recorded just one pass breakup in his three seasons in Chicago, but he saw some time at both the nickel and as a backup cornerback Thursday and he believes he showed Fox and the Bears coaching staff what he can do all over the field.
With the shift in the NFL to a passing league and so many three wide receiver sets, the Bears are in a nickel defense more than 50 percent of the time, meaning there is a serious need for at least three good corners on the depth chart.
"Me working at nickel as well as corner today was a great opportunity for me to see where I'm at when the bullets really get flying," he said.
First-year Bears head coach John Fox liked what he saw.
"He's a competitive young guy," Fox said after the game. "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's a guy we like that had a good game."
McManis had nine interceptions and forced four fumbles during his career at Northwestern, breaking up 38 passes and recording 201 tackles.
He hopes he can work toward making an impact like that on the Bears defense instead of just playing special teams.
"I'm very determined [to get more playing time on defense]," he 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.
"It's about getting opportunities and capitalizing on those opportunities, making plays, just competing and trying to get better."