Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, who didn't play last week after 99 straight starts because of a hamstring problem, said yesterday he hopes to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Washington Redskins, the team that took him with the seventh overall selection in the 1999 draft, then traded him after five seasons for running back Clinton Portis following the 2003 season.
"I think so, I'm confident that I will [start]," Bailey said yesterday in a conference call with reporters at Redskins Park. "Realistically, who knows? I'll wait and see what happens. But I'm a lot further ahead than [last Sunday]. No way I could go last Sunday. If I keep improving, I'll play."
Bailey said it was a "weird" feeling sitting out the first game of his career because "I've never sat on the sidelines in my life. I didn't really know how to handle it. I just tried to help the guys the best I could."
Bailey was listed as questionable, defined as a 50-50 chance of playing, by the Broncos yesterday in their injury report to the league. He insisted he views the Redskins only as another obstacle on his team's path to the playoffs, but both he and Portis will be a major part of the pregame build-up.
The Redskins also gave up a second-round draft pick in the deal, which the Broncos used to take running back Tatum Bell last year. Bell is now a key man in the Broncos' running back rotation, often spelling starter Mike Anderson. The Broncos are averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Thumbs Way Up on Jansen
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said he continues to be amazed by tackle Jon Jansen, who is playing despite two broken thumbs. Jansen said his left thumb, the first he broke, has healed more quickly than the right, but he is likely to wear casts on both Sunday.
"I don't know how many guys have done that," Gibbs said of playing with two broken thumbs. "It's pretty miraculous. My hat's off to him. He's a true leader. It's pretty remarkable."
Harris, Hall Are Questionable
Starting cornerback Walt Harris, who missed last week's victory over Seattle with a calf injury, didn't practice again yesterday and was listed as questionable. If he can't play Sunday, he will again be replaced by rookie Carlos Rogers, the first-round draft pick who played well against Seattle.
Safety Pierson Prioleau, who also missed the Seattle game with a hamstring problem, practiced and was listed as probable. The only other questionable player was kicker John Hall, still nursing a quadriceps injury that has forced him to miss the past two games.
Safety Sean Taylor (shoulder), linebacker Chris Clemons (knee) and Jansen (thumbs) were listed as probable.