Denver, CO. For eight years now, the Denver Broncos have had the luxury of having one of the truly elite cornerbacks in all of the NFL. Champ Bailey, who this year will be entering his 14th season, has simply been one of this generations best cover corners. He is one of the few “shutdown corners” in all of football, a term that is used to describe the best of the best at his position. When Denver traded Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins prior to the 2004 season, Champ came to the Mile High City in exchange, and hasn’t disappointed ever since. He has been rock solid on one half of the field, many times eliminating certain portions of opposing teams game plans. But in recent years it has been the other side of the field where the Broncos defense has had some issues. The other starting CB position has had many volunteers, most of which have gone down in flames in atrocious fashion. Realizing this, Denver signed former New Orleans Saints CB Tracy Porter this offseason. Having Bailey on one side means Porter should be a very busy man in 2012.
Champ Bailey is no spring chicken, however he is still playing at a high enough level to make QB’s nervous about chucking the ball in his direction. Just last year, it was still relatively rare to see a ball head his way in the air. He is, and has been, a known commodity and a player who is headed straight to the Hall of Fame one day. One of the main Achilles heels of this defense for seemingly years now has been the starter on the other side of the field. Whether it has been Andre Goodman, Dre Bly, Perrish Cox, Chris Harris, or Cassius Vaughn, it has been downright ugly at times for any Broncos fan to watch. Anytime Denver would face an elite QB, they knew exactly who to go after, and it wasn’t the Pro Bowler wearing #24.
So who is the Denver Broncos new starting cornerback, Tracy Porter? A little background….Porter will be 26 years old in three weeks, and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Saints. He went to the University of Indiana, where as a Senior, was named to the All-Big Ten Conference First Team. At the NFL Combine prior to the ’08 draft, Porter ran a 4.37 40-yard dash time, which showed of his impressive speed. Throughout his 4 years in New Orleans, he became known as a ball-hawk, and a player who came up big in big moments. In the NFC Championship game just a couple of years ago, Porter made two enormous plays. First, mid-way through the 4th quarter in a tight battle versus Minnesota, he caused a fumble which his Saints defense ultimately recovered. Then, with less than a minute remaining, Porter intercepted Brett Favre to seal the 31-28 win for New Orleans. He wasn’t quite done with the huge plays for that season. Two weeks later in the Super Bowl versus Indianapolis, Porter made a play that all Saints fans will remember until the end of time. Late in the 4th quarter, as the Colts were making a furious comeback, #22 on defense was there once again. Tracy jumped Reggie Wayne’s route and proceeded to pick off Peyton Manning’s pass, returning it 74 yards for a back-breaking TD. It sealed the win for New Orleans, and labeled Porter as one of the best young CB’s in the game.
Although Tracy Porter has had some huge moments in his brief NFL career, some critics point out that he hasn’t been the most consistent guy on defense. Being that he is still quite young, Denver could be the perfect place for him to prove his worth. Learning technique from one of the best ever in Champ Bailey can only benefit him down the road. Along with that, the fact that he won’t have the pressure of defending the opposing teams top WR very often may allow him to gain confidence as well. The talent is there, the speed is there, and the big-play potential is there. It had all better be there, as all things point to Tracy Porter having a very busy 2012 season.