WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The other day, Champ Bailey was talking about how he’s had to adjust to things like new teammates, coaches and playbook nuances with the New Orleans Saints after spending the past 10 years with the Denver Broncos.
“But as far as football, football is football,” Bailey said. “You either got it or you don’t. And I think I still got it.”
Bailey certainly demonstrated that on Sunday. The 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback showed off his veteran savvy and nose for the ball while teaming with safety Rafael Bush to make the play of the day during full-team drills.
Bailey stripped the ball away from fullback Erik Lorig after a swing pass. Then Bush made a sensational effort to pop the ball up in the air before it bounced out of bounds. And Bailey snagged it out of the air.
“I kind of take it personal when a guy sticks his hand in my face,” said Bailey, who was pretty animated after forcing the turnover. “He tried to stiff-arm me. I’m not gonna hurt him, I don’t know why he did that. So I just had to make him pay somehow. And the best way is to get the ball from him.”
Bailey, who joined the Saints this offseason at age 36, has looked good all summer while competing for the No. 2 starting cornerback job with Patrick Robinson and Corey White. Bailey still looks plenty fast and fluid and -- most importantly -- said he feels great after a foot injury derailed his 2013 season in Denver.
Obviously Bailey isn’t as fast or fluid as he was in his prime with the Broncos and Washington Redskins. But the Saints didn’t bring him here because of his superior athleticism. They want that veteran savvy and ball skills and instincts that he displayed on Sunday’s play.
As coach Sean Payton said when describing Bailey the other day, they don’t need to see it every day, they just need to see it once in a while.
As for what Bailey himself is looking for this year, well, it’s the same thing he’s been seeking throughout his stellar 16-year career.
“Getting a ring. That’s it,” said Bailey, who signed an incentive-laden two-year deal worth between $3.75 million and $6.75 million. “There’s nothing else keeping me out here. It’s not like they’re paying me a boatload of money around here.”