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That changed when Harris got hurt in the Broncos’ playoff win over San Diego and Bailey started Sunday opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, then moved into the slot on passing downs to thwart the heart of the Patriots’ offense.

“I knew I’d be back at some point,” Bailey said. “My coaches, teammates, they never gave up on me. They knew I’d be back to 100 percent at some point. Here I am, I’m playing probably my best football of the year — because I haven’t played much. I’m just looking forward to the next one, making sure my body is right for the next game.”

And don’t count on him getting caught up in the comparisons at the Super Bowl between him and Sherman, who represents this new breed of cornerback, the bigger, athletic DBs who trash talk as well as any of the receivers they cover.

About the only trash-talking that came out of Bailey’s mouth Sunday was when he was asked about how the Broncos shut down the Patriots’ ground game.

The Broncos held LeGarrette Blount to 6 yards on five carries a week after scoring four TDs against Indianapolis.

“Well,” Bailey said matter-of-factly, “they didn’t play the Broncos last week.”