Wearing a new number (No. 27) and occupying a different locker, Danieal Manning's return to the Houston Texans seems surreal to him. Joking that he had simply taken a vacation during training camp to escape the Houston heat, Manning's good mood was infectious.
"I'm excited, man, and grateful," Manning said Tuesday. "Rick (Smith) kept his word. He told me a long time ago, that if this opportunity came, he would bring me back. He kept his word."
The strong safety was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals when they finalized their 53-man roster. Manning, signed to the Texans active roster one day earlier, practiced with his teammates on Tuesday.
With a new defensive coordinator in Romeo Crennel, Manning will have plenty to catch up on in his first few days back. He's been undergoing a crash course, according to his teammates, to get himself acquainted with the new 3-4 defense the Texans have adopted.
"There is a lot of flexibility in this defense," Manning said. "Coach Romeo Crennel, he does a lot with everybody. He uses all the guys on this team and all their skillsets, so I think that's a big thing that we have, a big plus, and the veteran players that we have on defense."
The nine-year NFL veteran, who spent his last three seasons as a starter on the Texans defense, may have to earn his role back after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Manning isn't worried, though. Whatever his role may be, he is up for the challenge.
"As an older guy, I know that's what it is," Manning said. "The young guys have done well and have been in this system all through preseason and OTAs. I'm quite sure that if I want to come in, that's the way I have to get in, through that door."
Manning doesn't take any of it for granted, not even getting back his old jersey number, No. 38. It now belongs to rookie cornerback Andre Hal.
"We talked about it," Manning said. "I don't know. We have to talk to Jay Bird (director of equipment services Jay Brunetti) and the NFL. I didn't get to meet the guy the first day I got here. Now we've had a chance to talk and he's willing to give it to me, but I really don't know yet."