The Denver Broncos officially will be without starting cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Joel Dreessen when they play the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow night according to Denver Post's Mike Klis.
Champ Bailey has been dealing with sprained foot since he injured it in week 2 of the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks. Bailey was able to shed crutches and the boot. He was even able to do some individual drills and some jogging with the team in practice yesterday. Bailey was progressing, but it just wasn't enough to convince the Broncos that Champ was ready. Perhaps if the Broncos played on Sunday, the diagnosis might be different.
Bailey sitting out isn't that big of a surprise and is the best thing when thinking of the big picture. There's no denying Thursday night will be a big game for Denver, but keep in mind that there are fifteen other games that Broncos have on the schedule. It's best to have Bailey healthy for the rest of the season instead of risking him re-injuring his foot. Also, at times, Bailey struggled keeping up with Baltimore's speedy wide receivers last January in the playoff loss. If Bailey is around 80% health and tries play Thursday, it could get ugly.
With Champ Bailey missing from the secondary, the plan is to have cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris to start. In nickel situations, cornerback Tony Carter will join the duo as well.
Joel Dreessen has had some bad luck this offseason. Just before training camp, Dreessen found out he required minor surgery to get his knee scoped. Dreessen missed all of preseason and the majority of practices including training camp. The Broncos had hoped Dreessen would be ready for the season opener, but may have been convinced to err on the side of caution.
With Dreessen out, the Broncos will need someone to pickup his blocking expertise. Both tight ends Jacob Tamme and Julius Thomas don't exactly have a good reputation as pass blockers, so expect tight end Virgil Green to get more playing time than he typically would.
Though the Denver Broncos could use both Bailey and Dreessen, they should be alright without them. Whether they win or lose, it won't be because of or inspite of Bailey and Dreessen being out.