Texans happy to have ex-Bear Manning

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Houston Texans were no doubt pleased to hear Lovie Smith say on Thursday "I don't think we've been in this good of a position at safety" in regards to the current starting combination of Chris Conte and Major Wright.

If Smith felt differently, perhaps the Bears would have made a stronger attempt to re-sign Danieal Manning last year in free agency. Instead, Manning was allowed to walk and ink a four-year deal with the Texans that included $9 million in guaranteed money -- $11 million in the first two years of the contract.

Manning missed three regular-season games due to an injury, but his presence in the Houston defensive backfield helped solidify the Texans' revamped secondary. The former Bears second-round draft choice intercepted a pair of passes in the regular season and had one pick in Houston's home playoff victory over Cincinnati.

Texans general manager Rick Smith explained on Friday why the organization targeted Manning last year in free agency.

"He adds a dimension," Smith said. "You are always looking to add a dimension to your football team. We had a need at the safety spot and we obviously felt he was a talented football player. He has all the attributes as a safety, but he is also a heck of a kick returner. So he has everything you look for when it comes to going out an acquiring a free agent. He fit the bill. We have been extremely pleased with his addition to our locker room, practice field and team on game day.'

"He fought through an injury but continued to lead and play at a very high level."