Bradley Roby ready for opportunity to stand out for Broncos

The showdown of Broncos All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris vs. Patriots receiver Julian Edelman could decide who goes to the Super Bowl from the AFC.

The focus all week has been on Harris' injured left shoulder and how it could effect his ability to get his hands on Edelman at the line of scrimmage. Jamming receivers has been a strength for Harris, who's one of the best slot corners in the NFL, and is key for any corner trying to throw off the quick release and timing between Edelman and Tom Brady that has created one of the best pitch-and-catch connections in the NFL.

Even at less than full strength, Harris will play Sunday. But how much could be determined as the game goes on. In the Divisional Round against Pittsburgh, Harris only played 75 percent of defensive snaps. A huge step back from his team-leading average of 96.9 percent for the season.

Harris admitted after the game to NFL Network that he expects Broncos' second-year corner Bradley Roby will need to have an increased role against the Patriots because of his injury.

Roby isn't a starter, but plays enough to be considered one by coach Gary Kubiak. He himself is limited with a sore hip but is still probable. What he does on the big stage in an increased role could prove pivotal in helping the Broncos reach their eighth Super Bowl. It's also a spotlight Roby has been waiting to shine in.

"I'm not going to lie, I've always made big plays when the game is on the line," Roby said Thursday. "Even when I was in little league, high school. But then I played offense, so now it's different. They just come at me and I make plays."

In Week 2, Roby had a scoop-and-score with just seconds remaining to beat the Chiefs on the road. Last week he forced the game-changing turnover when he used an unorthodox punch while being blocked to jar the ball loose from Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, a turnover that led to the game's deciding touchdown.

"I always make plays like that," Roby said. "Weird, crazy plays like that. I don't know why. It just happens and I see myself as a playmaker."

This season Roby has consistently been the last defensive player to walk off the practice field. He's made a habit of working on footwork or hand placement with a Broncos staff member behind the line of cameras shooting Kubiak's daily news conferences.

"He's a top-notch draft choice, but yet he's got two All-Pro players ahead of him," Kubiak said Thursday. "That could bother a lot of guys, but me being one year with Bradley, I see it as driving Bradley to be a great player."

Roby has always had an appetite for success that, at times, has caused him to get so upset with mistakes that he would cry on the phone while speaking to his mother or friends about it.

"I would always get emotional," Roby said sitting at his locker. "Anytime I'm playing football I want to be the best, so I thought I could never mess up. I had to realize it's a game, man. You have to just beat them that's it."

There's been much more success for Roby in his second year of the NFL -- his first under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Last season, he was in the slot a lot compared to hardly at all this year and it shows. Roby has allowed a passer rating of 71.9 while lining up on the outside with 10 passes defensed.

The Broncos don't shadow receivers and play straight up man. They know how important their technique during the first few steps of coverage will be Sunday against Brady's quick release. If Harris' snap count is limited, Roby has a chance to standout and impact this game in a positive or negative way.

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