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Bound By Success

Posted Oct 13, 2005

Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworth have grown together, practiced together, practiced celebrating together. Sunday, they started together.

For Williams and Foxworth, the Only Thing Better Than Starting Was Doing So Together

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Domonique Foxworth and Darrent Williams have shared the growth process and, now, the success of their rookie seasons. PHOTO: TREVOR BROWN, JR. / RICH CLARKSON AND ASSOCIATES

By Andrew Mason

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It would have been fine enough with either Darrent Williams or Domonique Foxworth if one or the other had garnered the chance to become a starting cornerback in their concurrent rookie seasons.

But for both to do so -- and, last Sunday, to comprise the Broncos' first-team cornerback tandem -- was something else entirely. The joy of the moment was compounded by the fact that it represented another step forward in a shared journey they began when they first met on draft weekend.

"We've been going through this whole process together, and kind of growing at the same pace," Foxworth said. "It's a nice course of events."

Their status as starters -- plus Karl Paymah's contributions in the last two weeks -- along with injuries elsewhere at the position meant that the Broncos lined up during the crucial final moments of Sunday's 21-19 win over the Washington Redskins with three rookies trying to keep the Redskins from marching downfield.

It was not something the Broncos foresaw when they were planning for the regular season.

"No, I really didn't, to be honest with you," Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. "You never know for sure how a rookie's going to react, and they really stepped up and played well, so hopefully they can keep it going."

If they are to do so, they know they'll be facing the opponents' best shot -- whether Champ Bailey is out there on the field with them or not.

"I think we know that we're going to be targeted, so it really feels good -- especially teams that might have talked to you before the draft and might have passed on you," Foxworth said, emphasizing that New England was not among those teams. "It's kind of selfish, but in a way, it's kind of vindicating."

Added Williams: "If I looked over there and I saw some rookies, I'd try to go at them considering we don't have a lot of experience; we've never played a season on this level. But I think they come out early at us, we make a couple of plays and then it just goes back to the regular old game plan."

And defensive coordinator Larry Coyer doesn't expect opponents to stop testing the rookie cornerbacks.

"Never," Coyer said. "That's part of the growing process until you establish yourself."

It's a process that was accelerated in the last few weeks, and even the still-recovering Bailey can see the inherent blessings that came when the rookies rose in an absence that has now spanned two and a half games.

"If you want to look at it that way," Bailey said. "They're definitely getting the experience they need, but obviously I want to be int here. They can still get that experience while I'm playing.

"But it's good for them in the long run."

And good for the team, as well.