Ex-Bulldog Bailey welcomes attention

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --- The bully on the corner for so long, Champ Bailey is now the one getting picked on.


Maybe it's the former Georgia Bulldog's advancing age -- 31 -- or that he's coming off a groin injury that cost him half of last season and ended his Pro Bowl streak at eight. Whatever the reason, the Denver Broncos cornerback has seen his workload increase this season as opposing quarterbacks go after him.

All Bailey can say is, well, thanks.

"That only gives me chances to make plays," Bailey said with a smile Wednesday.

Bailey certainly made plenty of plays in a 17-10 win over Dallas last weekend that kept the Broncos undefeated. He intercepted a pass from Tony Romo at the Denver 6 and swatted down four passes, including two on back-to-back plays in the end zone in the waning seconds.

His performance earned him AFC defensive player of the week honors for the first time since 2003 when he was in Washington and seemingly in his prime.

Not that he's reading too much into the award.

"It means I played well last week, that's it," said Bailey, whose Broncos (4-0) face New England (3-1) on Sunday. "It means I have got to go out and prove myself all over again."

Bailey now faces his biggest test yet in Randy Moss.

Last year, Bailey and the Broncos had their season derailed at New England. The team was demolished in front of a national audience, picked apart by then offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' play calling in a 41-7 loss.

Bailey shut down Moss until injuring a groin that would keep him out for two months. On the sideline, he watched Moss reach the end zone twice.

This season, the Denver defense has the nastiness that Bailey has been craving. A once-maligned defense has morphed into a reliable unit, allowing a league-low 26 points.

In the offseason, the Broncos gave Bailey help on the other side by signing cornerback Andre' Goodman, while adding experience at safety with Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill.

Now, quarterbacks are coming right at Bailey.

That's a decision Dawkins doesn't quite understand.

"I guess people have different (levels of) courage, if you will, to challenge him," Dawkins said. "If that's the case, we welcome that. Champ welcomes that. His potential to make plays only goes up when you challenge him."

Bailey can't remember ever getting this much action, not in college or the pros.


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