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Bailey back on the field for Broncos after failing conditioning test

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Champ Bailey returned to the football field and also coach Josh McDaniels' good graces Saturday after failing his conditioning test 48 hours earlier.

The perennial Pro Bowl cornerback said at first he was angry with the Denver Broncos' new head coach but came to realize McDaniels made the right move in holding him out of Friday's two practices along with safety Renaldo Hill and defensive lineman Marcus Thomas.

2008 Statistics
Games/Starts: 9/9

Tackles: 44

Interceptions: 1

"It bothered me a little, but I'm all for the right thing, you know?" Bailey said after the three veterans returned to action Saturday. "In the end, as long as I'm there Sept. 13 (for the season opener), that's all that matters."

Bailey and the others were banished to the team's weight room during Friday's practices, and Bailey acknowledged it was difficult for a team leader like himself to accept such a red-faced punishment.

"It's frustrating because one thing I want to do is always practice," Bailey said. "I don't want to be just a guy off to the side, and I've had my share of days doing that. So, I want to be out here practicing."

Bailey sat out much of last season, missing seven games with a torn groin and then undergoing elbow surgery in the offseason after watching his streak of eight straight Pro Bowl berths come to an end.

He said he tried at first to fight McDaniels over his exclusion from the start of training camp, "but I know where he's coming from, so I respect that," Bailey said.

Bailey insisted the matter wouldn't harm his budding relationship with McDaniels, who, at 33, is just two years older.

Bailey said he's healthy, just a little out of shape.

"I feel good. I've got to work myself back into it," he said.

McDaniels welcomed the three veterans' return.

"You didn't really notice Champ, which is pretty typical because he always does his job really well and you don't throw much over there," McDaniels said. "So, that's a great thing to have out there on the left side of our defense. He challenged our receivers today, he was very aggressive and you can feel his impact when he's out there on the field."

Bailey was plenty noticed by the crowd and the offense, intercepting one throw and then baiting Kyle Orton into throwing a deep pass to Brandon Marshall that he broke up at the goal line.

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Hill also looked good at practice, but Thomas was winded.

Still, he said it was harder sitting out Friday.

"I was out there looking from the windows trying to watch everybody and I wanted to be out there real bad," he said. "(McDaniels) just felt like he needed to hold us out a little bit and get ourselves together."

Defensive lineman Nic Clemons was carted off with a right knee injury, and two other players missed practice, safety Vernon Fox (right ankle) and pass-rusher Jarvis Moss, for what McDaniels said was an unspecified personal reason. He declined to elaborate. KDVR television station in Denver reported that Moss, the Broncos' top draft pick in 2007 who hasn't lived up to expectations, was considering retirement. Moss did not return a phone message from The Associated Press.

NOTES: McDaniels showed some more of his disciplinarian style when he had rookie QB Tom Brandstater and C Blake Schlueter run a lap around the field after fumbling an exchange. Later, he ordered his entire third-team defense to run a lap along with coaching assistant Jay Rodgers for having just 10 men in the huddle.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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