Broncos' Champ Bailey works way back

December, 1, 2013
12/01/13
10:45
PM ET
videoKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Things change. The seasons go by, things happens, what was once a given is no longer that way.

Quarterback Peyton Manning has taken several Wednesday practices off in recent weeks, a nod to a right ankle injury that Manning has called "an adjustment" he’s had to make as a 37-year-old in his post-neck surgery football life.

Same for cornerback Champ Bailey, the other 12-time Pro Bowl selection on the Broncos' roster, along with Manning. Bailey returned to the lineup in Sunday's 35-28 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time since he re-aggravated a left foot injury in the Broncos’ Oct. 20 loss in Indianapolis. It was just the third game Bailey has played in this season -- he originally suffered the injury in the preseason -- and the Broncos had him on a tight play count.

When Bailey did play, it was largely only in the nickel package. In the second half rookie Kayvon Webster and Chris Harris Jr. were the cornerbacks in the base defense while Quentin Jammer then played in the nickel as Bailey remained on the sideline.

Bailey had the wind knocked out of him on a tackle just two plays into the game and had to leave for several snaps before returning and finishing out the first half. He finished with four tackles in the game.

"I’m always going to be aware of my snap count," Bailey said. "I never want to come out of the game, but after being out for so long, and I’ve never been in this position where I’ve been out so long before, it was hard to get back going a little bit. I’m not 25 anymore. I’ll figure it out."

"We knew we weren’t going to try to play him 80 snaps on his first day back," said interim head coach Jack Del Rio. "The plan was to rotate him through and not have him play too much in his first game back."

Bailey said he would expect to play more in the coming weeks, but believed he came through the game without any issues with the foot.

"I feel good," Bailey said. "I always want to be out there, it’s just a different situation for me. I’m working through it, just like they are."

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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