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Camaraderie is why Danieal Manning fits right in with Bengals

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals entered free agency hoping to add a veteran safety to replace the role Chris Crocker had been filling for the team. While Reggie Nelson is a quality start and George Iloka looks to be growing into one, there was no real depth behind them.

Shawn Williams was taken in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he rarely saw the field as a rookie in anything other than special teams. Taylor Mays was re-signed, but he's been more useful at linebacker.

That's where Danieal Manning came into play. After being cut by the Houston Texans, Manning was reunited with his position coach, Vance Joseph, now in Cincinnati in that same role.

"I always say that if a defensive back can make it past his thirties and he's fairly healthy, that's a positive," said Vance Joseph, Via Fox Sports Ohio. "He's seen it all from a schematics point of view. When they're young they're playing on physical ability. When they're over 30 they've got some of that stuff left but they're mostly playing with their head. If a guy can make it to his thirties, he's a valuable player."

But it wasn't just the presence of Joseph that lured Manning to Cincinnati. No, he wanted to sign with a team whom he believed he could stick with that truly was a 'team', and not just a group of guys getting paid to play football.

"I'm not just here for the ride, Manning said. "I want to be more than just a contributor for this team. I want to be able to stick around with these guys.

"This team from the top down, we have the quarterbacks, the running backs, the receivers and the O-line, then you can do the same thing with the D-line, linebackers and safeties and corners. It's a great feeling that the guys get along so well.

"You don't get that a lot. You can ask guys around the league, you don't get that type of camaraderie along with that type of competition and the kind of experience of a team that this organization has put together."

That's one aspect of the Bengals that has helped them get to three straight playoffs while winning 30 games: Camaraderie.

That's what got this team out of the basement in 2011, when all hoped seemed lost and everyone had given up on this team, even it's own starting quarterback.

Whether you think Marvin Lewis is an average coach, or Andy Dalton is not a franchise QB, you still have to be impressed by what this team has been able to accomplish after hitting one of the lowest points of the franchise's history.

The camaraderie with these players has been a big reason why, and hopefully, it helps them make a run at the Super Bowl.