Bad foot testing Bailey’s patience

Pacing the sideline in street clothes for nine games this season

was downright difficult for 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ

Bailey.

Standing there helmet in hand as the Chiefs drove 83 yards in

the closing minutes of the Broncos’ game at Kansas City last

weekend was pure anguish.

Even though he was active for the first time in more than a

month, the 12-time Pro Bowler was helpless once again to do

anything more than cheer on his teammates in the fourth quarter as

he’s done for all but one game this season.

”I think I got to the point where I knew I needed to shut it

down. That was the decision we made and we live with it,” said

Bailey, whose day was done by halftime. ”My thing now is just to

get my body and my mind right and just try to keep getting

better.”

Soothing his suffering was safety Mike Adams, who knocked away

Alex Smith’s fourth-down pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone from

the Denver 13 after rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster slipped on the

play.

That preserved Denver’s 35-28 win that gave the Broncos (10-2)

control of the AFC playoff race in their quest to atone for last

year’s playoff failure.

Bailey, who logged 30 snaps in his first game since aggravating

a nagging left foot injury in an Oct. 20 loss at Indianapolis, said

he realizes he’s not going to ever be 100 percent this season.

”Yeah, I guarantee that won’t happen. I know I won’t be. That

is something I’ll have to live with,” he said.

Bailey hurt his foot in a preseason game at Seattle and didn’t

play until Week 5 against Jacksonville, where he had six tackles in

the only full game he’s played this season. But he reinjured the

foot the following week against the Colts and didn’t play again

until Sunday, when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was out

with a shoulder injury.

Playing mostly in the nickel package, Bailey had the wind

knocked out of him on a tackle just two plays into the game and

left for several snaps before returning and finishing the first

half with four tackles. After halftime, Webster and Chris Harris

Jr. were the cornerbacks in the base defense with Quentin Jammer

replacing Bailey in the nickel.

”Clearly he was a little bit rusty in terms of not feeling

comfortable and being at his best,” defensive coordinator Jack Del

Rio said. ”The guy is a 12-time Pro Bowl player. He’s an excellent

football player. But everybody needs to sharpen their skills to

stay on top and so he’s no different than anybody else in that

regard and we expect him to be a week better.”

Bailey, 35, said he suffered no setbacks this time around, and

was a full participant at practice this week. Still, he was

downgraded mid-day Friday from probable to questionable for

Sunday’s game against Tennessee (5-7).

”I’m better. I think it was a good test last week to see where

I was,” Bailey said. ”I’m obviously not where I want to be. It’s

just trying to be patient with it.”

Offseason surgery isn’t in the offing.

”No, I don’t think so. It is a thing that has healed pretty

good,” Bailey said. ”I’m just not confident in it yet. That’s

pretty much what it boils down to.”

What could be in his future after this season is a move to

safety, and with a salary cap number of $10 million next year, the

Broncos may need him to renegotiate his deal, too, in order to

stick around Denver for a comeback in 2014.

All of that is for another day, however.

For now, Bailey, bad foot and all, is trying to help jumpstart

Denver’s 27th-ranked defense and help Peyton Manning and the

Broncos’ turbo-charged offense win a Super Bowl.

”I feel like we’re close,” Bailey said. ”We just have to keep

getting better and start clicking at the right time.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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