RENTON, Wash. (AP) Dion Bailey would seem to have an unenviable task.
Having never played in an NFL game, Bailey is set to make his debut on Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks open the season at St. Louis. But this is more than a simple NFL debut. Bailey will be replacing second-team All-Pro Kam Chancellor at strong safety as Chancellor continues his holdout.
''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 in Kam's shoes. I'm here to go out there and be the best Dion Bailey I can be. The best Dion Bailey has done me well so far.''
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Bailey is about to begin his second NFL season as an unlikely starter, capping a rapid rise up the Seahawks depth chart. He missed the first few day of training camp more than a month ago, but when Bailey started playing he quickly asserted himself as the top option with Chancellor not around.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said what Bailey brings doesn't show up during offseason workouts but is evident in games.
''In his opportunities to hit guys, he is an all-out hitter. He knocks the heck out of guys when he gets his chance,'' Carroll said. ''We saw a lot of playmaking in camp. He had a lot of interceptions. He had more plays than anybody in camp knocking balls down and making interceptions. He's not the guy that is going to look great in the OTA season because he needs to play. He's a ball player.''
Nevertheless, there is clearly some irritation with Chancellor not having reported and facing fines potentially totaling more than $1 million. Carroll said Wednesday that Chancellor would not be playing on Sunday and said he was personally disappointed the situation had reached the point where Chancellor would miss a game check.
Chancellor spoke with NFL Network on Wednesday and indicated he's not seeking new money this year, but wants money moved from 2017 to 2016 in his contract.
''I am disappointed by this, very much so,'' Carroll said. ''Everybody should be because he's been a great part of our team. It's unfortunate it's come to this and he's not here.''
Bailey made clear that he's not trying to be Chancellor, noting he's three inches shorter and at least 20 pounds lighter. ''I hope people aren't expecting me to go out and crush bones or things like that,'' he said.
But Bailey does have experience in college doing many of the things Seattle asks of its strong safety. They must be stout in run support, which Bailey knows well having spent some of his time at Southern California as a linebacker. The strong safety also must be able to cover tight ends and backs coming out of the backfield in the pass game.
While he hasn't shown it at the professional level yet, Bailey feels comfortable - and confident - doing all he will be asked. Working with the Seahawks starting defense through the preseason only boosted his confidence.
''I found out I can play with the best of them. I've been going against the 1s pretty much the whole preseason,'' Bailey said. ''So I found out the same thing I was able to do in college I'll be able to do in the league and that was a huge boost to my confidence and a huge thing playing defensive back in this league. Confidence is everything going from one play to the next without really beating yourself up.''
NOTES: Seattle released Robert Turbin after reaching an injury settlement with the backup running back. Turbin was expected to be out at least five weeks with a high-ankle sprain and was placed on injured reserve over the weekend. Turbin is now a free agent. ... LB Mike Morgan (hamstring) has already been ruled out of Sunday's game.
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