2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bailey, Harris reverse roles in Broncos secondary

    2013-12-27 14:56

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Champ Bailey and Chris Harris Jr. are reversing roles down the stretch.

Bailey is playing in the slot. Harris is playing outside. And the protege is giving tips to his mentor.

Bailey has missed 11 games this season with a nagging sprained left foot. When he returned to action Sunday at Houston for the first time in five weeks, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio kept Harris at left cornerback and used Bailey in the specialty packages as the nickel and dime cornerback.

Although Bailey has lined up in the slot at times throughout his illustrious career when shadowing a top-flight receiver, playing it full-time is a new experience for the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback who's in his 15th NFL season.

So, Bailey found himself seeking advice from Harris, an undrafted third-year pro he's taken under his wing.

''You know, it's funny because I find myself asking him little things about coverages, mostly. Just what is he looking at, this and that,'' Bailey said. ''He's had so much time in there and he's been so good at it, I'd be a fool not to look at him and ask him a few things.''

Harris certainly isn't shy about sharing tips.

''Oh, yeah, I mean, I know the position so well and I consider myself the best at it, so I definitely can give him some of my little tips at it,'' Harris said.

Even to a man many consider the pre-eminent cornerback in the game's history.

''Yeah, that is kind of funny now that I think about it,'' Harris said. ''But it's a new position. He's always been outside. I've always been playing it in Jack's system so I know it the best out of anybody. That's the reason why he comes to me.''

With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the right side and Harris on the left, the slot seems the perfect role to ease Bailey back into action. He played 35 of 67 snaps against the Texans, last week, enough to give him some confidence in his foot but not enough wear him down.

''I didn't play as many snaps as I have in the past, so it felt pretty good to get my feet wet a little bit,'' said Bailey, who has played just 12 quarters this season.

The Broncos aren't saying whether they'll switch Bailey and Harris for the playoffs, but this certainly is giving them the flexibility to do so based on matchups they'll see in January.

''Right now it's what we do,'' Bailey said. ''Moving forward we'll do what's best for our team that week. The good thing is it creates some versatility across the board because now I can go in, Chris can go back in there at any moment. It just depends on matchups and things like that, if we want to switch it up we could.''

Bailey might get even fewer snaps Sunday when the Broncos (12-3) try to wrap up the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win at Oakland (4-11) because rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster figures to play in the dime packages even though he'll have a cast on his right thumb following surgery on Dec. 13 in which six screws, five pins and nine stitches were needed in an operation to repair two fractures.

Harris has started 10 games at left cornerback for Bailey this season and another on the right side when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was out with a shoulder injury, and he's taken a liking for playing outside.

''On the inside, you have a lot more responsibility. They can run 1,000 routes compared to outside, you have kind of the sideline help,'' Harris said. ''It's a lot easier for me just playing outside, not having to play inside and communicate with safeties and linebackers. Outside I'm just on my own.''

Except when he's giving advice to his mentor on the inside.

Notes: Harris was named the seventh annual winner of the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award. ... As expected, WR Wes Welker was ruled out for Sunday's game. He hasn't played since suffering his second concussion in four weeks on Dec. 8. ... DE Derek Wolfe returned to practice after missing a day with the flu. He hasn't played since a seizure-like episode last month and will also miss the Oakland game.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

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R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

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Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

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