But Bailey tore a groin muscle against New England and will miss four-to-six weeks. Although Denver's pass defense has been poor this season, Bailey was having a good season.
Not many teams were throwing Bailey's way while he was healthy. He was shutting down New England's Randy Moss before he got hurt. Moss' two touchdowns came after Bailey left the game. The defense has to move on without Bailey, which won't be easy.
"We really can't think about that," cornerback Karl Paymah said. "We'll go out there, and we'll trust the next guy."
Paymah is the next player up. He will take over as a starter, with rookie Jack Williams remaining in the nickel role. Paymah was the nickel cornerback to start the season, but he was benched after three games. He has more experience than Williams, and will start opposite Dre Bly.
Opponents' stats against Denver's pass defense were already staggering. Through seven games, teams have completed 72.9 percent of their passes against the Broncos, which would be an NFL record over a full season. The Broncos have only two interceptions, one by a defensive back. That interception was by Bailey in Week 2. Last week, New England's Matt Cassel, coming off a rough game against San Diego, completed 75 percent of his passes, for three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Broncos.
For such a young team, the Broncos started fast. Many of Denver's key players, especially on offense, have three years or fewer in the NFL.
The Broncos have a leg up on plenty of teams because they have no doubt who their quarterback is now, and will be in the future. Jay Cutler has been good most of this season, and the talent around him is young and talented.
Given that there are very few holes on offense, the Broncos can spend the next few offseasons working on shoring up a defense that hasn't been reliable the past couple of seasons.
The Broncos defense spent most of the first half of the season looking for answers. A few personnel changes were made, plenty of different schemes were used, and yet the Broncos still had some issues stopping other teams.
Against the pass, the Broncos played mostly soft coverage, not wanting the opponent to get deep for big plays. Predictably, they allowed a huge completion percentage with very few interceptions.
Denver had its problems against the run as well. Each week, it seemed the defense was giving up at least a big play or two to the opposing running back.
Now with cornerback Champ Bailey out for at least a month and outside linebacker Boss Bailey out for the rest of the season, the Broncos have to shuffle even more to find a way to shore up the defensive problems.
--QB Jay Cutler shouldn't have any problems with his right index finger after the bye. He practiced with the team before it left for its bye week. He did not break any bones in his finger and the team anticipates no further problems.
--S Calvin Lowry was a starter against New England but didn't play that well. The Broncos benched Marlon McCree for Lowry in the week leading up to the Patriots game. Lowry could get another chance to start after the bye.
--DE Jarvis Moss has been playing more in the past couple of weeks, and had a half of a sack against New England. His progress has been slow, but the Broncos need some contribution from the 2007 first-round pick.
--TE Daniel Graham caught a touchdown pass for the second straight week. He's never going to post huge numbers in the passing game, but will see a few targets each week when Tony Scheffler is out with a groin injury.
--LB D.J. Williams had 16 tackles, including a half of a sack, against the Patriots. Denver's overall defensive woes might count against Williams when Pro Bowl balloting is done, but he is having a stellar season.
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