Bly Ready To Strike For Broncos

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Dre' Bly surveyed the chessboard and pounced on the mistake.

"Oh, yeah," the Denver Broncos cornerback screamed after checkmating linebacker Ian Gold in a friendly game inside the locker room Thursday.

Bly plays cornerback just like chess - he sees a window of opportunity and strikes. That's what has made him a two-time Pro Bowler. His 33 interceptions since 1999 are the fourth-most in the league.

However, Bly's willingness to take risks also makes him susceptible to giving up a big play now and then.

Yet there's no one Champ Bailey would rather have as his wing man than Bly.

"He's doing great," said Bailey, whose team will open up the season Sunday at Buffalo. "He's done everything I expected him to do. People have to watch out for him."

The 30-year-old Bly was acquired from Detroit in March for running back Tatum Bell and offensive lineman George Foster. He will replace Darrent Williams, who was killed in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day in a case that remains unsolved.

It hasn't been a smooth preseason for Bly. Although he intercepted a pass against Dallas, he turned in a forgettable game against Cleveland, giving up big pass plays to different Cleveland receivers.

Bly has struggled with the new schemes brought in by defensive boss Jim Bates.

He's far from alone. The entire defense has been slow in picking up Bates' system.

"When you have a new scheme and new players, there are going to be some struggles," explained Bly, an avid chess player in his spare time. "You want to iron out all of the wrinkles in the preseason; have your struggles then so when the season comes, you can have everything worked out. I was glad we experienced that and struggled like we did because it was a reality check."

Bates isn't the least bit concerned over Bly's preseason blahs.

"He's doing a good job," Bates said. "He's improving on the practice field. He has a lot of energy and gets his hands on a lot of balls."

Asked if he expected Bly to see a lot of action against the Bills on Sunday - given that Bailey lurks on the other side - Bates just smiled.

"Oh yes," he said. "He'll definitely see some action."

That means Bly could spend quite a bit of time covering Bills receiver Lee Evans, who caught 82 passes for 1,292 yards last season. Evans had a franchise-record 265 yards receiving against Houston last November.

"He will be a real challenge," Bly said. "He has incredible speed and the ability to make the big catch. We know their offense revolves around him. To play well, we know he definitely has to be stopped."

Buffalo quarterback J.P. Losman has such confidence in Evans that he even vowed to throw to him even if he's locked up against Bailey.

Bailey's response was simple - bring it on.

"I always want to face the best," Bailey said. "Whoever lines up in front of me, I'll accept that battle. I expect (Losman) to go to his No. 1 guy."

Bailey wants to be tested. It would be a rare thing. Most quarterbacks see him and go the other direction.

Even with scarce opportunities, Bailey still has a league-high 18 interceptions over the last two seasons, the most since Everson Walls picked off 18 for Dallas in 1981-82.

He expects his work load to only increase with the arrival of Bly.

At least that is what he is hoping.

"It's going to be a challenge every week to go against us," Bailey said. "I mean, who are you going to attack?"