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Publish Date: 9/29/2005

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Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey brings down Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison during the second quarter Monday night at Invesco Field. Bailey injured his hamstring later in the game, and his status is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.Times-Call/Richard M. Hackett

Champ’s streak to be tested
CB is questionable


ENGLEWOOD — So Dick Vermeil was upset.

The Kansas City Chiefs coach didn’t like what Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey had to say in front of a national television audience.

Bailey was wired for sound during Monday Night Football and was overheard shouting, “The way they played up there in Kansas City, it ain’t the same. ... They’re not playing as hard.”

Vermeil took exception to Bailey’s comments. He felt like Bailey was rubbing the Chiefs’ nose in a lopsided 30-10 loss.

If that particular comment got under Vermeil’s skin, Bailey’s rebuttal on Wednesday should really irk him.

“I felt like I was kicking their (butt) so I just said it,” Bailey said. “I’m not going to shy away from speaking my mind.

“You can’t take that comment to heart. I say that about everybody. If I’m doing my job, and doing it well, then I’m going to talk about it.”

Denver just hopes he’ll be able to talk smack in the near future. While an MRI revealed no tear in Bailey’s hamstring, he’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with Jacksonville (11 a.m., Ch. 4). Bailey has started 99 straight games, but the streak may be in jeopardy. While Bailey didn’t practice Wednesday, he’s not ruling out a return to the field.

“There’s always a chance,” Bailey said. “I really won’t know until that day.”

If rookie cornerback Darrent Williams were a betting man, he’d wager that Bailey would be back. Players like Bailey don’t know the meaning of sitting out.

“You can never count him out,” said Williams, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a sore ankle. “He’s made 90-something consecutive starts, so you can’t count him out.”

Denver defensive coordinator Larry Coyer is hoping that’s the case. Given Jacksonville’s receiving corps of Jimmy Smith, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, the Broncos will have their hands full. They need Bailey, even if he’s only 80 percent healthy.

“Let’s hope and pray he plays,” Coyer said. “Not having Bailey is scary to me.”

Part of Bailey is starting to believe this is a jinxed season. He pulled a hamstring in the preseason, dislocated his shoulder against Miami, and now he has to deal with the same hamstring injury again.

“This is the first time I’ve had to overcome this many (injuries) at one time,” Bailey said.

Asked if this injury is different than his shoulder and Bailey chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s my leg,” Bailey said.

After his shoulder injury, Bailey had the luxury of wearing a harness. There’s no magical remedy to make a hammy heal faster. Well, there is but it’s not a viable option for Bailey. He doesn’t want to hear that the only way to cure a hamstring is rest, rest and more rest. He doesn’t want to be shut down.

“I don’t think that way,” Bailey said. “I take it one day at a time and try to do what’s in front of me, and stop thinking about what’s down the road.

“A lot of guys play with pain. It’s just the nature of the game. You’re going to get banged up. You just have to find a way to get through it and play.”

All Denver can do for the time being is take the wait-and-see approach.

“Right now, it’s just a guess,” Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. “We’ll just have to evaluate it as time goes on.”

After talking about his hamstring over and over again Wednesday, Bailey was ready for another topic.

So let’s talk more about the flare-up with Vermeil.

Bailey was miffed that Vermeil took it so personally. Bailey pointed out that Vermeil basically said the same thing in his post-game press conference. To paraphrase Vermeil, he said that Denver was a better football team.

“If you look at his quotes, he did say they should have played harder,” Bailey said.

Vermeil will counter with the fact that Kansas City didn’t rub it in Denver’s face last season when the Chiefs won, 45-17, at Arrowhead.

When you’re beaten, you’re beaten. Allow the opposition to go home and lick their wounds without throwing more salt in the wound.

“I know this — none of our players said Champ didn’t play hard when we beat them by three touchdowns,” Vermeil said. "(Kansas City receiver) Eddie Kennison didn’t say that Champ wasn’t playing hard.”

No way would Vermeil allow his players to be miked. He doesn’t want them to say something outlandish in the heat of the moment.

“I remember last year on Monday night, when we played Baltimore, they miked (linebacker) Ray Lewis and you catch some things a guy is saying in frustration,” Vermeil said Tuesday. “You use it to enhance the broadcast, but sometimes it embarrasses the player.”

In this case, Bailey was far from embarrassed. He stands by his words. He wouldn’t change a thing he said. This ordeal hasn’t soured him on wearing another mike for a game.

“If I’m offered, I’ll do it again,” Bailey said.

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