Bailey swaggers back home to Georgia

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press file photo
Champ Bailey, a Folkston, Ga., native and a University of Georgia alumnus, will walk into the Georgia Dome with a swagger Monday night when the Denver Broncos will play the Atlanta Falcons. He’ll have family and friends there, and he hopes, for once, a quarterback will give him the chance to impress. Enlarge photo

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press file photo Champ Bailey, a Folkston, Ga., native and a University of Georgia alumnus, will walk into the Georgia Dome with a swagger Monday night when the Denver Broncos will play the Atlanta Falcons. He’ll have family and friends there, and he hopes, for once, a quarterback will give him the chance to impress.

ENGLEWOOD – Champ Bailey went all out for his Georgia homecoming, buying tickets for “everybody that I cared about.”

And since the Denver Broncos’ Pro Bowl cornerback is assembling such a big audience at the Georgia Dome, he’s hoping maybe the Atlanta Falcons might indulge him and throw his way.

Don’t be bashful, either, Matt Ryan, because Bailey doesn’t mind the action.

With the Falcons having one of the top receiving tandems in the league – Bailey’s hoping to be kept busy Monday night.

“I welcome that,” said Bailey, who grew up in Folkston, Ga., and became a star for the Georgia Bulldogs. “I look forward to it every week anyway, even though sometimes that’s not the case. I’m always prepared for it.”

Bailey and Porter certainly will have their hands full as they try to keep track of Roddy White and Julio Jones. The duo combined for 12 catches and 195 yards last week in a win at Kansas City.

“They’re as good as they come,” the 34-year-old Bailey said. “We’re going to see a lot of great tandems, but (White and Jones) are emerging to be one of the best. All I see is growth from Julio Jones from last year. He’s like night and day.”

Bailey is relishing this rare trip home, knowing there may not be many more chances.

About the only thing Bailey’s not looking forward to is covering tight end Tony Gonzalez. They’ve had quite a few memorable matchups dating back to Gonzalez’s time with the Chiefs.

“I’m so tired of this guy,” Bailey said, laughing. “He never stops. He creates so many problems because he’s so savvy, and his experience, it shows every week.”

Given that Bailey is one of the best in the business – his 11 Pro Bowls attest to that – QBs typically don’t throw his way all that often. But that may be changing with the arrival of Tracy Porter.

He’s pretty good, too. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger, who tried to throw on Porter last weekend, only to have Porter step in front of the pass and return it for a game-sealing 43-yard touchdown.

Porter’s presence just may lead to more chances for Bailey.

“I hope so,” said Bailey, who has 50 career picks.

Still to be figured out, though, is who will play in the Broncos’ nickel package. With defensive back Chris Harris bothered by a sore ankle and questionable for the game, Denver may turn to rookie Omar Bolden or little-used Tony Carter.

“You can’t account for everybody on every play, as far as double-teaming or whatever, so you’ve kind of got to say, ‘You’ve got your guy; you better take care of it,’” Bailey said. “That’s the way you’ve got to approach this thing. We know we’ve got to win some one-on-ones.”

Not to mention pressure Ryan, who’s quickly becoming one of the elite QBs in the NFL. Even more, Ryan has been so good at home.

“For some reason, I don’t know if he has a chip on his shoulder when he’s at home, (but) he turns it up a bit,” said Bailey, whose team beat Ryan and the Falcons 24-20 in 2008 at the Georgia Dome. “We’re aware of that. We’ve just got to go out there and take care of our job and not worry about it too much.”