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Ailing CBs Bailey, Goodman might give way to Broncos rookies

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Nine-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey said over the summer that what he liked most about the Denver Broncos' seasoned secondary wasn't so much its experience but its youthful additions.

New nickel back Nate Jones, a seven-year veteran who came over from the Miami Dolphins, saw it right away.

"Depth is always your friend in the NFL," he said.

That depth could be tested in a big way Sunday: The Broncos might have to face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts with three rookie cornerbacks.

Bailey left the stadium on crutches Sunday night after trainers treated his right foot late in the fourth quarter of the Broncos' 31-14 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Bailey didn't have any broken bones but wasn't sure if he or cornerback Andre Goodman (thigh) would be able to play Sunday.

Goodman walked with a slight limp, but he didn't stop to talk on his way to the trainer's room Monday. Bailey never showed up in the locker room during the 45-minute media-access period.

"It would be an important game obviously to have those guys available for," McDaniels said. "And they'll do everything they can to do make sure they're ready for Sunday. And that's really all we can tell right now. I don't know if they're going to be or not."

If the answer is no, the Broncos would line up with rookie cornerbacks Perrish Cox, a fifth-round draft pick from Oklahoma State, and Cassius Vaughn, who went undrafted out of Mississippi. Syd'Quan Thompson, a fifth-rounder from Cal, likely would be activated for the first time this season.

"Peyton's one of the best to play the position. We all know that," Jones said. "He presents a challenge no matter who you have out there."


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Yet, Jones said the rookies are ready for the challenge.

"We've got some talented young guys," Jones said. "But more importantly, I think we've got some very diligent vets on this team, and if that happens, we'll do everything in our power to get them ready."

Cox got a lot of work with the starters during camp and said that has helped rid him of any nerves as he faces the possibility of receiving extended playing time or even his first NFL start.

"Regardless if they're playing or not, I think I'm going to fit in big-time. I'm prepared for it," Cox said.

Cox, who had treatment Monday on a minor right leg injury, sure isn't intimidated by the possibility of being picked on by Manning.

"I mean, it's a big challenge, but I wouldn't really look at it too much differently than any other challenge," he said. "Everybody's in the NFL, everybody's a professional."

Cox has an icy confidence about him that belies his eight quarters of NFL experience, so it's not surprising to see him shrug off the notion that Manning will provide a test the likes of which he has never seen.

"I don't look at nobody differently," Cox insisted. "I kind of look at everybody on the same level until they prove different. I don't go by what people say and what's in the newspapers and all that. I just go out and ball. Help out my teammates the best way I can is kind of what I look forward to."

Cox had his first NFL interception in the waning minutes Sunday, but that was quickly followed by his first personal-foul penalty when he celebrated with a throat slash, a gesture that has been banned by the league for a decade.

"It was a reaction. It's my first interception," he said. "It felt good, actually. The real season. Getting an interception the second game of the season, that's kind of a great feeling. It kind of takes a lot off your back and you can kind of play in a more comfort mode."

Vaughn was more low-key about the possibility of increased playing time this week.

"I'll just try to stick besides these veterans and prepare like they would as much as I can," he said. "Regardless of who we're playing, you've got to prepare like hey, you don't want to let nobody down."

Vaughn said having Bailey, Goodman and veteran safeties Renaldo Hill and Brian Dawkins to help him eases his mind.

"It really does help, just being around them, watching them play, listening to them, asking them questions. There's just so much they have to offer that you want to find out," Vaughn said. "We have a lot of veterans, so it will be a real great comfort level."

Even if one or both starting cornerbacks are on the sideline in street clothes.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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