At least for eight games this season, the Broncos have not had a defensive captain and one of the best cover men in the NFL. Not that Champ Bailey doesn’t make a huge difference for Denver, but without him, the Broncos are still 9-1 and things are going pretty much according to plan.
Bailey has been out since the pre-season with a foot injury, and tried to come back in the Broncos’ win against the Jaguars but re-aggravated the injury and has missed more time yet.
With Bailey out of the lineup, it’s given guys like Tony Carter, Kayvon Webster, and even Quentin Jammer an opportunity to step up and prove that they can make plays in the absence of a future Hall of Famer, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to have Bailey back at full strength.
For Patriots week, the Broncos continue to play things slow with Bailey as it pertains to getting him back on the field. For what Bailey has to do on the field, having a foot injury is a lot more serious than a doctor’s timetable might indicate.
Bailey has been limited through Thursday practices, and he will probably be limited again on Friday unless Bailey is feeling really good about his foot. He has missed a ton of time this season and is trying to get back into the game, but as we saw, it’s not just having Champ on the field, it’s having him out there healthy and able to play at a high level.
With his injury, he obviously was hampered and probably should have been on the sideline resting up. Still, until the debacle against the Ravens last season in the playoffs, Bailey was yet again one of the most dominant corners in the league, whether people want to admit it or not. He’s not the speed demon he once was, but he knows where he’s supposed to be, when he’s supposed to be there, and he still puts on a tackling clinic.
If Bailey can come back this week against the Patriots, I hope the Broncos aren’t doing it just to get him back on the field. If Bailey is healthy, then I’m all for it. It will be great to see what this talented Broncos secondary can do with Bailey out there along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris, two of the best in the NFL.