Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins don’t buy into the hype that this week’s game against the New England Patriots is any bigger than the 13 before it. Every game is big.
“It’s the NFL,” Bailey said. “You can say what you want — every week is a big test and the more you win, the bigger the test is. This is one of the better teams in this league. Every week is a big test.”
As Bailey alluded, the Patriots are one of the top teams in the AFC this season, currently sitting atop the AFC East with a 10-3 record.
With the Broncos on a six-game win streak, the team knows that every game is important.
“As you get further where we are in December playing meaningful games, every game gets bigger and bigger,” said Dawkins, who had limited participation in Thursday’s practice. “If you can’t get up for these games and if every game does not mean a little more, trying to push ourselves to get to somewhere we haven’t been as an organization in a long time — you’ve got to get up for these games.”
As the team continues toward its goal, Bailey said the group is only getting better.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” he said. “That’s going to be the key. We’ve got to keep improving because the good teams that are in the playoffs play great this time of year. So if we stay focused on getting better every week, the sky’s the limit.”
HISTORY OF SUCCESS
Since Sports Authority Field at Mile High opened in 2001, the Broncos have won six of their eight games against the Patriots.
Bailey has been a part of five of those wins, and with only one loss, has the best winning percentage against New England (minimum five games) of any active player in the NFL.
But he knows the past doesn’t necessarily dictate what’s going to happen on Sunday.
“We play well against them, but things can change,” Bailey said. “We’re confident that we’re going to play well. But (Tom Brady) is one of the best and you’ve got to give him his credit and the respect he deserves.”
Still, Bailey did allow himself to think back on one of Denver’s most memorable victories against New England, in a 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff game.
“Considering how much they’d won the previous years, they were pretty much unbeatable,” he recalled.
In a Broncos win, Bailey recorded the longest non-scoring interception return and second-longest overall interception return in NFL postseason history with a 100-yard return late in the third quarter.
“Well, that play was one of the biggest plays around here,” Bailey said. “It definitely, last time we were in the playoffs, last playoff win. Hopefully I can make more like that.”
Bailey was tackled at the 1-yard line , and he joked that former teammate Nick Ferguson was to blame. The Broncos scored on the next play courtesy of a 1-yard run by Mike Anderson, and Denver went on to win 27-13.
“To get a play like that to change the game and to get a win against a team like that, it was a special moment,” Bailey said.
WOODYARD EARNS AWARD
Thursday morning, the team told Wesley Woodyard that he was selected as its Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient for the second consecutive season.
The award recognizes a player for outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community.
Dawkins said he couldn’t agree more with the selection.
“That speaks a whole bunch about a man’s heart,” he said. “Because he does not do it with a frown on his face — he wants to do it. He’s always trying to get us to come out and attend his events as much as we can. It seems like it’s always something that he has going on. So that means you have a young man who understands how much he’s been blessed and he’s trying to bless as many as he can with the overflow.”
McCARTHY TO PRACTICE SQUAD
On Thursday, the Broncos added safety Kyle McCarthy to the practice squad.
The second-year safety played eight games as a rookie for Denver in 2010.
For the Broncos, three players were upgraded Thursday. After not practicing yesterday, Dawkins and Andre’ Goodman were limited. Eddie Royal, who was limited Wednesday, practiced in full.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: Safety David Bruton (Achilles).
LIMITED: Safety Brian Dawkins (neck), cornerback Andre’ Goodman (concussion).
FULL: Fullback Spencer Larsen (hamstring), linebacker Von Miller (thumb) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (concussion).
For the Patriots:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: Safety Patrick Chung (foot), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot).
LIMITED: Cornerback Kyle Arrington (foot), quarterback Tom Brady (not injury related), wide receiver Deion Branch (groin), center Dan Connolly (groin), wide receiver Julian Edelman (back), linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb), safety James Ihedigbo (shoulder), cornerback Devin McCourty (shoulder), wide receiver Matthew Slater (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), running back Shane Vereen (hamstring), wide receiver Wes Welker (knee), center Ryan Wendell (calf), defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (not injury related), running back Danny Woodhead (abdomen).
Below are photos from Thursday’s practice.
Tags: Practice Photos