ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Entering his fifth postseason, cornerback
"I think one thing I probably need to do more is just emphasize it to my teammates," Bailey said. "I was young in this league at one point and my first year I made the playoffs. After that, I didn't make it for the next four years. These opportunities don't come by that often. I think once everybody understands that, it gives everybody else a different perspective."
Bailey has played in seven career playoff games - five with the Broncos - and has broken up nine passes, made 21 tackles and recorded two interceptions, including a career-long 100-yard interception return in 2005. He has made it to the conference championship game once, in 2005 with Denver.
Though his resumé includes nearly every NFL achievement but a Super Bowl appearance, the 12-time Pro Bowler still knows what type of mentality it takes to get there.
"Games are going to be closer," Bailey said. "Teams are going to be better. That's just how it is. We've got to make sure we play all 60 minutes."
With advice like that, Bailey and other veterans on the team have been instrumental in Denver's 2012 success. But he believes that the younger players on the team are the key to advancing in the playoffs. That's why he is making sure everyone is clear on what's at stake.
"I've said it before, we're only going to be as good as our young players play," Bailey said. "And if they don't play well, it's going to be hard for us to be a good team."
As the quality of opposing teams will surely increase in the playoffs and the pressure continues to mount, Bailey can expect a tough matchup regardless of who Denver plays. He has defended the opponent's best receiver throughout most of his career, and in the playoffs, that receiver will likely be one of the best in the game. He isn't one to back down from those types of challenges.
"Everybody has a nice No. 1 receiver coming up and we're aware of it," Bailey said. "Whoever comes up, whoever wins, whoever loses - it doesn't matter. We're going to be ready for whoever comes up."
But for the remainder of the week, Bailey and the Broncos don't know who that opponent is. So they've been looking in the mirror, perfecting their own craft and eliminating any and all mistakes that they can find.
After Friday, he expects players to begin to shift their focus to the opponent. It begins with viewing the Wild Card Round with a thorough eye.
"Right now, I think we need to focus on us," Bailey said. "Make sure we correct the things that we struggle with or things that we've had little problems with and then from there, we'll find out who our opponent is and then start preparing for them. But I think, as a professional, you should be watching these games. You should be paying attention to what's going on."