The Champ packs a Punch

After finishing dead last in interceptions last season Denver looks to cornerback Champ Bailey to help shore up a questionable secondary.

Cornerback Champ Bailey, a four-time Pro Bowler acquired in the trade with the Washington Redskins for Clinton Portis, will immediately make an impact in the teams secondary.

Two days into training camp he's also begun making an impact on the teams' offensive unit as well.

Just ask starting quarterback Jake Plummer.

"All the guys are going to get better going against Champ," Plummer said. "You're going against Champ, you're going against an All-Pro. You're getting good work every day."

It's that good work that head coach Mike Shanahan hopes will come quickly, and it's also one of the reasons Shanahan orchestrated the deal to bring Bailey to Denver in the first place.

"He makes everybody better," said Shanahan. "He makes our defensive backs better. He sets a higher standard and you've got to have that standard. A guy like Champ sets it in the secondary."

Considering last season's dissapointing defensive effort, Bailey's presence comes as a welcome relief.

For the second consecutive season the Broncos intercepted only nine passes, dismal enough for last place in the NFL. "Turnovers are critical" according to Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer. "It's a practice deal," according to Shanahan, who left explicit orders for practice drills during the off season which emphasized ball catching and tip drills.

"I think the thing we need to do for Coach Shanahan, and I'm going to be honest with you and tell you straight how I see it -- our job is to step up and do a job from a coaching and playing standpoint that's accountable to him," said Coyer. "We dot the i's, we cross the t's and take care of business. If we do that, and our character's like I think it is, we're going to be a good defense."

While the jury is still out on the Champ's potential impact in Denver, his stats at Washington speak for themselves.

Bailey is widely regarded as one of the NFL's top cover man. At 6'2 and 190 lbs, Champ never missed a game in five seasons with the Washington Redskins. He finished the 2003 season with 72 tackles (61 solo), two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. His stats over the past five seasons with the Redskins are even more impressive posting 361 total tackles (293 solo), 18 interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

The combination of Bailey and safety John Lynch (another Pro Bowler acquired during the off season from Tampa Bay and an outstanding veteran player) could supply the punch Denver's secondary needs to push the team into Super Bowl contention.

(Broncos Update staff writer Dianne Harrison Miller contributed to this story)

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