Champ Bailey ready to return, not retire

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 20, 2013
(Eds: Adds details, quotes. With AP Photos.) By ARNIE STAPLETON AP Pro Football Writer Champ Bailey isn't going to pull a Ray Lewis and inspire his team down the stretch and into the playoffs by declaring this is his last hurrah. Asked if retirement was on his mind after enduring the most trying season of his stellar career, one in which he's missed 11 games with a nagging foot injury, the Denver Broncos' 35-year-old cornerback quickly chortled. ''Oh no,'' he said. ''I'm thinking about winning on Sunday.'' With rookie Kayvon Webster out following surgery on his right thumb this week, Bailey is expected to play in Denver's nickel and dime packages when the Broncos (11-3) visit the Houston Texans (2-12). It will be just his fourth game of the season. Bailey first sprained his left foot in a preseason game at Seattle and he aggravated it Oct. 20 at Indianapolis in his second game back. He played the first half at Kansas City on Dec. 1 but clearly wasn't himself, and coach John Fox later acknowledged the 12-time Pro Bowler had been rushed back too soon. Bailey has much more confidence in both his foot and his game now. ''I do feel like I do still have my speed and quickness - I have to in order to be able to play out there,'' Bailey said. ''I feel good about what I can do. I think now it's just being smart about how I go about doing it and making sure I don't have any setbacks and I don't wear myself down or anything like that. The good thing is I'm fresh, I'm ready to go. I've had some time off.'' Bailey has spent much of this season imparting his wisdom to his fellow defensive backs during the week and on the sideline come game day, wanting desperately to help shore up an injury-riddled defense that's ranked 28th against the pass and contribute to a team that can clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs for the second straight season. ''Regardless of how we're playing it's hard to watch,'' he said. ''But I do what I can to help these guys get prepared every week, that's what I've been doing. I still do the same thing this week, except I'll be out there. I'm looking forward to getting out there and helping them while I'm on the field.'' Bailey is expected to be worked into the lineup against the Texans when the Broncos use five or six defensive backs, which is how they used him against the Chiefs. Bailey was asked this week about Washington Redskins captain London Fletcher, the 38-year-old linebacker with 100 percent attendance who says there's a 99 percent chance he's retiring at the end of the season after never missing a game in 16 seasons. ''I've seen my peers drop off a lot in the last five years,'' Bailey said. ''He's older than me, but he hasn't missed a game. I don't know how he did that, but the game is going to miss one of the great ones. He definitely should be considered as one of the greatest to ever do what he did.'' Bailey said his foot injury hasn't caused him to think about hanging up his own cleats after 15 seasons, none of which have ended with a trip to the Super Bowl. ''Not really. Not more than normal. I think we all have to think long term, especially financially. Right now I'm just concentrating on getting my foot right and getting back on the field,'' Bailey said. ''That's really where my head has been.'' All Bailey can do now is look on the bright side: maybe all this time off will prove a boon come playoff time. ''My fingers aren't banged up like they normally are this time of year. My shoulders don't feel as bad,'' he said. ''Those are the only things that have gotten a breather. My legs are still my legs. I'm 35, they feel as good as they're going to feel right now.'' --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org --- Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Jose Altuve leaves game after scary outfield collision

Allen Iverson has savage response to Tim Hardaway’s crossover claim

Fred Hoiberg: Rajon Rondo ‘longshot’ to return during Celtics series

Pat Riley: LeBron James’ departure from Miami ‘was personal’

Marcus Smart fires back at Jimmy Butler over ‘not about that life’ talk

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tony Gonzalez: Tony Romo did not cost me CBS job

Martavis Bryant conditionally reinstated by the NFL

Dustin Pedroia: No rift in Red Sox clubhouse after Manny Machado incident

USGA tries to simplify rules by ending viewer call-ins, somehow makes it more complicated

NFL GM: Peterson could push Saints ‘into the playoffs and beyond’

Report: Derek Jeter/Jeb Bush-led group wins auction for Miami Marlins

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Draft do-overs we'd most like to see

NFL Draft X-factor players you may have missed during their college careers

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Box Score 4/25: 'So long, sleeves'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Where it went wrong: Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 exits

20 of the best NFL Draft red carpet looks

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Draft do-overs we'd most like to see

NFL Draft X-factor players you may have missed during their college careers

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker