Depending on how the competition shakes out when the Lions get into the training camp routine next week, Boss Bailey - at the age of 24 with one year of experience - might find himself the old man of the Lions' linebacking corps.
A second-round pick in the 2003 NFL draft, Bailey - the younger brother of Denver cornerback Champ Bailey - started every game as a rookie and played virtually every defensive snap.
And in a linebacking corps that is likely to include - in some capacity - another second-year player and two rookies, a year's experience means a lot.
"He's still a developing young player but he got 1,068 snaps last year, a lot of practice time and great experience," coach Steve Mariucci said. "So I don't want to say we look at him as a veteran but, in some ways, we do, compared to other players.
"He doesn't need all the little detail stuff the way a Teddy (Lehman) or an Alex (Lewis) would at this point. He got more than his feet wet last year, he should have a heck of a season for us."
In his 16 starts at the strong side, Bailey registered 109 tackles (including 73 solos), as well as 1.5 sacks and an interception. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
The thing Mariucci and Lions president Matt Millen liked about Bailey when they drafted him was his speed and athletic ability. They have worked hard to make him stronger in the offseason and their feeling is generally that he can be a superior player as he gains experience.
Bailey might be surrounded by players even younger and less experienced than he. Lehman, a second-round pick this year, will compete with veteran Earl Holmes for the middle linebacker job and Lewis, a fifth-round pick this year, will compete with second-year player James Davis for the weak-side job.
Boss The "Old Man" In Linebacking Corps
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