After five seasons in Washington and 10 in Denver, Champ Bailey has participated in his first practices in New Orleans this week. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes what he sees.
“He looks fantastic,” Ryan told the Advertiser. “You look out there and you think he’s one of those young guys running around. But he’s bringing excitement to our defense and knowledge and it’s awesome to add a great player like him.”
The soon-to-be 36-year-old Bailey is the oldest player on the Saints other than kicker Shayne Graham, and he says he takes the role of being a leader seriously.
“If you put me on any team, I’m always going to be the old guy,” Bailey said. “It’s just something I’ve got to get used to. . . . My first thing is to lead by example, show how hard I can work and try to lead that way. And all these guys — I know I have a lot of experience and I’m not going to shy away from telling them things I think they need to hear and making sure I’m there for them when they have questions.”
Veteran leadership is nice, but the Saints need Bailey to contribute on Sundays in the fall, and not just at OTAs. By age 36 players often struggle to stay healthy for a full season, and last year in Denver Bailey missed 11 games. Ryan has to hope Bailey can keep looking fantastic all year.