Posted: Sunday, September 16th 2012 at 12:47am
Broncos' Bailey relishing return to Georgia
By The Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO -- Champ Bailey went all out for his Georgia homecoming, buying tickets for "everybody that I cared about."
And since the Denver Broncos' Pro Bowl cornerback is assembling such a big audience at the Georgia Dome, he's hoping that maybe the Atlanta Falcons might indulge him and throw his way.
Don't be bashful, either, Matt Ryan, because Bailey doesn't mind the action.
With the Falcons having one of the top receiving tandems in the league - Bailey's hoping to be kept quite busy Monday night.
"I welcome that," said Bailey, who grew up in Folkston, Ga., and became a star for the Georgia Bulldogs. "I look forward to it every week anyway, even though sometimes that's not the case. I'm always prepared for it."
Bailey and Porter will certainly have their hands full as they try to keep track of Roddy White and Julio Jones. The duo combined for 12 catches and 195 yards last week in a win at Kansas City.
"They're as good as they come," the 34-year-old Bailey said. "We're going to see a lot of great tandems, but (White and Jones) are emerging to be one of the best. All I see is growth from Julio Jones from last year. He's like night and day."
Bailey is relishing this rare trip home, knowing there may not be many more chances.
About the only thing Bailey's not looking forward to is covering tight end Tony Gonzalez. They've had quite a few memorable matchups dating back to Gonzalez's time with the Chiefs.
"I'm so tired of this guy," Bailey said, laughing. "He never stops. He creates so many problems because he's so savvy, and his experience, it shows every week."
Given that Bailey is one of the best in the business - his 11 Pro Bowls attest to that - QBs typically don't throw his way all that often. But that may be changing with the arrival of Tracy Porter.
He's pretty good, too. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger, who tried to throw on Porter last weekend, only to have Porter step in front of the pass and return it for a game-sealing 43-yard TD.
Porter's presence just may lead to more chances for Bailey.
"I hope so," said Bailey, who has 50 career interceptions.
Still to be figured out, though, is who will play in the Broncos' nickel package. With defensive back Chris Harris bothered by a sore ankle and questionable for the game, Denver may turn to rookie Omar Bolden or little-used Tony Carter when another defensive back is needed.
The soft-spoken Carter is confident he can do the job, should he get the call. That conviction comes from hanging around Bailey, who's taken the fourth-year player under his wing.
"I'm staying in Champ's hip pocket, trying to learn everything I can," said Carter, who has a locker right next to Bailey. "You've just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get."
Bailey believes Carter is ready.
"He understands what he's great at," Bailey said. "I think that's part of maturing when you're a pro, is (to) know your strengths and know your weaknesses.
"You see his speed, you see how quick he is. Now it's just showing up because he understands how to play the game. That's the reason we kept him - he's a great cover corner, and those are hard to come by."
Sure are. And never in more demand than when going against a team with the weapons that Ryan has at his disposal.
Not to mention pressure Ryan, who's quickly becoming one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.
Even more, Ryan has been so good at home.
"For some reason, I don't know if he has a chip on his shoulder when he's at home, (but) he turns it up a bit," said Bailey, whose team beat Ryan and the Falcons 24-20 in 2008 at the Georgia Dome.
"We're aware of that. We've just got to go out there and take care of our job and not worry about it too much."
NOTES: Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas (shoulder) and OL Manny Ramirez (elbow) are probable for the game. ... Broncos coach John Fox on playing a difficult schedule to open the season: "There are no cupcakes in this league. Each week is a tough game."
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