ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When cornerback Tracy Porter looks across the line of scrimmage at the opposing quarterbacks this season, he'll see a Pro Bowl quarterback 11 games in a row to start the season.
Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Matt Schuab, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Matt Cassel await on the 2012 schedule, so fortifying the secondary was a major point of emphasis for the Broncos front office this offseason.
Porter thinks that joining a new-look defensive backfield that was also bolstered by the additions of cornerback Drayton Florence, safety Mike Adams and fourth-round draft pick cornerback Omar Bolden will be strong enough to counter the aerial assault launched by opposing quarterbacks.
"I think we have the opportunity to be one of the tops in the league," Porter said. "We have a great pass rush with (LB) Von (Miller) and (DE) Elvis (Dumervil) and those guys on the front line. They definitely do a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback. We have the guys in the back end that can do it and the guys on the front end that can put that pressure on the quarterback."
Porter is no stranger to facing top-ranked passing offenses, coming from an NFC South division – which the Broncos will match up with this season – that boasts Pro Bowl quarterbacks on three of the four teams. However, in his eyes, more pass attempts just means more opportunities to come up with interceptions.
"It's definitely going to be competitive," Porter said about facing the NFC South. "It's definitely becoming a more pass-happy division with the likes of New Orleans because New Orleans has the spread offense so a lot of teams in the NFC South are adapting to that offense. I definitely tell them that it's going to be wide open. Expect to get a lot of ball thrown across the field. That'll give us a great opportunity to force more turnovers."
Porter thinks that the secondary has what it takes to compete with the slew of elite quarterbacks it will face in 2012.
"We have two experienced guys in Champ and Drayton," he said. "Along with me and the little experience I have, I can continue to learn from both of those guy. And we have Chris Harris Jr., he's a very good defensive back as well. I think we stack up well against it. We have the speed, we have the experience and we have the talent. We just have to put it together."
Putting it together means spending time in the playbook and watching film to make sure that it all comes together on game day.
"You can have the most talented team on paper, but you still have to play the game on Sunday or Monday," Porter cautioned. "If you don't show up, you're going to get beat."
Porter said that the veteran leadership of an 11-time Pro Bowler in Bailey will help every other player in that unit improve, starting with himself.
"We're both trying to make this defense one of the tops in the league and force as many turnovers as possible," Porter said. "Whatever he asks of me that I can help him with – if I can help him with anything – I'm open arms."
Porter called Bailey one of his favorite players to watch when he was growing up and he's excited to be able to call the future Hall of Famer a peer.
"To have the opportunity to play with one of my favorite players is a dream come true outside of winning another Super Bowl," Porter said. "Champ and I are trying to get on the same page."
With just two practices together, Bailey has already begun to help Porter adjust to a new defense.
"Overall just staying patient, learning what formations and what routes are coming and just having a knack for being around the ball," Porter said about the advice he's received from Bailey. "Champ's history speaks for itself. It's been my second practice (with Bailey) so I'm just trying to soak up as much as I can. Any question I think of on the field, I run and ask him. He answers it to the best of his ability because at the end of the day we just want each other to succeed."
Porter's adjustment is already well underway. "The defense is a little bit different from New Orleans, but overall at the end of the day, you're still playing football," he said. "I'm just loving the chemistry that we're developing right now."