ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Every time wide receiver Demaryius Thomas looks across from him at the line of scrimmage he has a challenge in front of him.
Sometimes he's matched up against Champ Bailey, a future Hall-of-Famer who has played in 12 Pro Bowls.
Other times it's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has tied for the fourth-most interceptions in the NFL since his rookie season, staring back at him.
"He is one of the best – besides Champ, of course – but he is really good," Thomas said of Rodgers-Cromartie. "Every day it is a battle because I have Champ on one side and then I have him on the other side. I'm thinking every time I come to the line about what I have to do to beat these guys."
Even if Thomas is able to gain a step on Rodgers-Cromartie, the speedy cornerback has shown the ability to catch up and make a play on the ball if it is thrown that direction.
"He's real good," Thomas said. "He's probably one of the best I've seen that can recover if he gets beat because his hips are so fast."
Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent this offseason, placed fourth among cornerbacks in the 2008 draft class with a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine.
He was drafted with the 16th pick in the first round that year and intercepted four passes as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals, including one that he returned 99 yards for a touchdown.
Some of that coverage ability comes from his 6-foot-2 frame.
"He is real long," Thomas said. "He covers very well, so you have to be on your Ps and Qs when you go against him. You have to body him up sometimes, you have to be in the right position because he's fast, long as has great feet."
After intercepting 13 passes and breaking up a total of 61 during his first three seasons with the Cardinals, Rodgers-Cromartie moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played the 2011 and '12 seasons.
"He's a tremendous athlete," Head Coach John Fox said. "He's on his third team now with
Arizona and Philly being the prior teams. But he's got tremendous ability and I've really liked what I've seen from him so far both on and off the field."
After starting 43 of the 48 games he played in Arizona, Rodgers-Cromartie opened just three of the 13 games he appeared in for Philadelphia in 2011 and did not register an interception that season.
He returned to start all 16 games for the Eagles last season but his three interceptions and 16 pass breakups were still below the numbers he posted in his first three NFL seasons.
"I think with everybody it takes time," Fox said. "It's a very competitive game played by competitive people and for whatever reasons, you know I can only speak for what little time we've had him here at the Broncos, but I like the way he's hungry and I like the way he's gone about his business. I think we've got a pretty good group to look at and to see how to do it at a high level in this game."