ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Throughout his 13, going on 14, years in the league, Champ Bailey has seen his fair share of quarterbacks.
But he's never practiced against a future Hall of Famer on a regular basis.
With Peyton Manning now his teammate with the Denver Broncos, Bailey has that chance. He described the opportunity with one word: challenging.
"I tell everybody in our defensive room, 'Just because we have a guy like that, it's not going to get easier for us,'" Bailey said. "We've got to work harder, because the expectations are here. He's going to kick our butts in practice, so we've got to be ready to go. If you don't put together good practices, the coaches don't trust you on Sundays, so it's a lot of pressure."
Even though practices haven't yet started, Eric Decker said Manning's effect on the team is already evident.
"He's a natural-born leader," Decker said. "In the weight room, he's the guy taking command of running from station to station. On the field, he's doing drill-work, getting us lined up and having us do things for a particular reason. There are no wasted movements, no wasted time, and that's a great thing to have in a leader like him."
That leadership came up often when players met the media on the first day of the team's offseason conditioning program Monday.
Bailey called Manning "bar none, the best in the league" in terms of his ability to lead a team, and Decker said just working with a player who had so much success breeds confidence throughout the team.
"I think the best thing about him is he really demands the best out of himself, which makes a lot of guys, in turn, want to do the same," he said. "We have a young offensive unit. I think to put a guy like him in place, to take hold of this leadership and show us the way, will be great."
Manning, the wide receivers, tight ends and running backs have already been working together on the field to perfect certain routes and timing, as the veteran quarterback has stressed the importance of working hard in April to see success come September.
That sort of effort from Manning in his first few days on the job have Bailey feeling even better about coming to work every day.
"You need a guy like that on your team, and where I want to go, what I want to do towards the end of the year is win a championship," Bailey said.
"I feel like he gives us the best chance."