ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- No Bronco is more familiar with San Diego’s offense than cornerback
The 14th-year pro has played a full season’s worth of games against the Chargers, totaling 82 tackles with four interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 16 career games.
Bailey joined the rivalry in 2004 when he was traded to the Broncos — the year quarterback Philip Rivers was drafted by the Chargers.
“Just mutual respect,” Bailey said of his relationship with Rivers. “That grows when you have a guy out there proving himself every week.”
Since taking over as the Chargers’ starting quarterback in 2006, Rivers ranks second in the NFL with 25,388 passing yards and third with 170 touchdowns.
Along with his reputation for on-field prowess, Rivers has become known for his on-field banter with opponents. Having gotten to know him as both an opponent and a teammate in Hawaii, Bailey said that doesn’t bother him.
“I know the type of person he is, being around him a few times at the Pro Bowl,” he said. “It’s kind of funny to me. He doesn’t get under my skin. I think he still affects a lot of people by that.”
Bailey knows that Rivers has the ability to get in the head of some defenders, but he said he respects Rivers’ competitiveness.
“I know what type of person he is,” Bailey said. “He’s one of those guys you hate to play against him, you love to play with him. I like guys like that. But when I play against him, I don’t like anybody.”
Newly acquired wide receiver and returner
The former NCAA 100-meter dash champion figures to play a role in the return game for Denver. During the preseason this year, he averaged 21.1 yards on 10 punt returns with two touchdowns and 39.9 yards on 10 kick returns with one touchdown.
Holliday hopes he can replicate that success now that the games count.
“I wouldn’t really say it’s a big difference,” he said. “The guys in the regular season are real fast now. Everyone is trying to make it happen.”
The Broncos special teams coaches liked what they saw from Holliday when they were preparing for the team’s Week 3 game vs. Houston, so when the Texans waived him, Denver went after him.
“I think some return skills,” Head Coach John Fox said about what Holliday brings to the team. “We thought he was pretty good in preparation when we played against him.”
“(He is a) great return guy,” Thomas said. "He did great when he was in Houston the times I did see him. … I think it will help us out as an offense with field position."
“He’s super-fast,” Thomas added. “I’ve never seen a guy that fast in person.”
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP FOR MILLER
One of the bright spots for Denver’s defense has been the play from the defending NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Through five weeks, Miller is picking up where he left off, leading the NFL with 12 tackles for a loss in addition to five sacks.
“I think he’s looking at it in terms of trying to continue to get better,” Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. “He’s been very good for us to start the year.”
During the offseason, Miller said a point of emphasis was to cut down on mental mistakes that he made during his first season.
As a result, he’s put himself in position to make more disruptive plays, taking his all-around game to another level.
“I think Von approached it in a way where he knew that he did some really special things,” Del Rio said. “There are a lot of things he could do better and he’s worked hard at being better.”
Both Del Rio and Miller know that there is still room to grow.
But, as he continues to develop, his impact on Denver’s defense still packs a punch.
“He’s got some rare abilities and he’s working hard,” Del Rio said. “If we could combine those two things, it usually leads to some good stuff for you. It’s a treat to coach to have a guy with that kind of talent that brings it and competes the way he does. I’m happy for him, I’m proud of him and obviously we need it to continue.”