Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll ruled out any possibility of starting strong safety Kam Chancellor playing in Sunday’s season opener against the St. Louis Rams as Chancellor’s holdout continues.
In Chancellor’s place, Dion Bailey will make the start for Seattle in the first regular season game of his NFL career.
So instead of getting a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time second-team All-Pro, the Rams will get a former undrafted rookie playing in his first real game.
Bailey knows as well as anyone that the Rams will likely come after him Sunday. He hopes they do.
“I hope they plan to come at me,” Bailey said. “It’ll make my coming out party a lot more exciting. The more opportunities to make plays, the more plays I’ll make.”
Bailey made a strong impression in training camp last year after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of USC. However, an injury led to his release before returning on the practice squad. He started this year’s camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but quickly ascended toward the top of the depth chart once he was able to practice. He started the last three preseason games at strong safety for Seattle.
“Dion Bailey has had a great offseason and camp for us,” Carroll said. “He’s been in that position for quite a while with us. We feel very comfortable that he understands the principles and the fits and all the things he has to do. He’s a playmaker and he’s a very aggressive tackler, so we’re going to count on him to do the things he does well, and hopefully fit him in with this group. We’re moving, we’re ready to go. We’ve had a long time getting ready with him, so we feel comfortable with that.”
Bailey knows he isn’t Chancellor and can’t play the game the same way his absent counterpart can. However, Bailey’s confidence clearly came through in speaking about his hopes for Sunday’s debut.
“For the first time in my life going into a big game, I don’t feel any pressure,” Bailey said. “I’m not here to fill Kam’s shoes. I’m here to be the best Dion Bailey I can, and the best Dion Bailey has done me well so far for the first 23 years of my life, so I like my chances on Sunday.”