Manning learning ropes at strong safety

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Danieal Manning knows firsthand how things change on the fly in the NFL. Originally a free safety his rookie year in 2006, the former second-round draft choice has also seen time at cornerback and nickel back, in addition to sharing kickoff return duties with Johnny Knox.

Because of the constant change surrounding Manning, many were skeptical when Lovie Smith announced plans to put him at strong safety this upcoming season. After an early boycott of voluntary offseason workouts briefly delayed the transition, Manning has spent the last few weeks trying to master the position and end speculation regarding his status.

"My position is strong safety," Manning said Saturday at Halas Hall. "Certain formations get us in certain situations where I'm considered a free (safety), but I'm at strong. I like the change because I like being in the box. I enjoy being around the action all the time, it really helps you to focus more when you're right in the middle of everything."

The placement of Manning at strong safety puts Chris Harris at free safety -- although Harris may be better suited to play in the box at this stage of his career.

"Chris is a veteran guy who's been around this system," Manning said. "He really knows what's going on, and is quick to help people out. It's nice to have a veteran out there people can look to for assistance."

Adjusting to strong safety has left Manning little time to focus on nickel, a position being handled by Corey Graham and D.J. Moore. Smith made it sound like there are no immediate plans to move Manning back to nickel, a spot he's worked at the past two seasons.

"We're just letting it play out right now," Smith said. "You saw the guys that worked [at nickel] today. Danieal is at strong right now. I'd just go with that right now. We'll just let it play out at the nickel position. We've seen Corey Graham and know a litte bit about what type of player he is. We're excited about seeing D.J. at the nickel positon. He has good instincts, great hands, so we'll see how it goes."