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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – How much does Champ Bailey have left in the tank at the advanced football age of 36?

"He's still Champ Bailey,'' New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan told USA TODAY Sports after Saturday's training-camp practice. "He's awesome.

"I'm sure he can't wait to show everybody that he's still Champ Bailey.''

Bailey is itching to prove the Saints right. They signed the 12-time Pro Bowler who played the last 10 seasons for the Denver Broncos to a two-year deal that could be worth up to $7 million.

Bailey is expected to start opposite cornerback Keenan Lewis, who led Ryan's fourth-ranked scoring defense with four interceptions last season.

The savvy veteran knows he's going to have to fend off fifth-year corner Patrick Robinson in order to earn that starting chance.

"I feel like I've still got it,'' Bailey said. "I can fit into this team. I feel good about what I've done. But I want to feel even better about what I'm doing this season. I can't do anything about the past.''

After beginning his career in 1999 with the Washington Redskins, Bailey is participating in his 16th training camp and hoping to wash away the bitter taste of last February's Broncos Super Bowl throttling by the Seattle Seahawks.

That's because there is only one thing missing on Bailey's glittering, future Hall-of-Fame resume.

"My motivation is getting a ring,'' Bailey said. "That's it. There's nothing else keeping me out here. It's not like they're paying me a boatload of money around here. I'm trying to get a ring.''

Asked if the Saints have the requisite talent to fulfill his dream, Bailey said, "We do. But it's too early to even consider that we're one of the top two or three teams in this league.

"Everything will play itself out. We're hungry.''

He's been around long enough to know the team with the best talent doesn't always win. It takes chemistry, urgency and veteran leadership. That's one reason why the Saints signed the league's active leader with 52 career interceptions, and he's already paying dividends in a revamped Saints secondary.

During breaks in practice, Bailey has been acting as a player and coach, mentoring the younger cornerbacks and safeties on the fine points of press-man coverage. He's teaching his teammates how to shuffle their feet along the line of scrimmage instead of taking a crossover step where a receiver can exploit a temporary loss of balance.

"It's always an honor when you have a player like that who's been one of the best to ever do it coach us up,'' Lewis said. "Anytime we can pick his brain, anytime we get a break, we're always asking him questions so we can lift our game.

"He's been a tremendous help all offseason fixing some of my weaknesses. So I'm glad to have him.''

PHOTOS: SCENES FROM NFL TRAINING CAMP

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Coach Sean Payton indicated he won't push Bailey too hard during training camp, referencing a favorite line from his Hall of Fame coaching mentor, Bill Parcells.

"I'll reference Parcells with a player like Champ, 'We don't need to see it every day. We just need to see it once in a while,''' Payton said. "It made sense.

"So that's being smart with the conditioning test, for instance. Or it's being smart with how we practice him. But I have a pretty good vision for what I think he can do for us. And I think that's been communicated and I think he's really anxious to do that.''

After adding safety Jairus Byrd in free agency to pair with second-year strong safety Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints seem poised to back up Ryan's challenge of forcing more than last season's 19 turnovers.

"There's nothing like being surrounded by talent,'' Bailey said. "It takes the pressure off you. It's like, 'OK, we've got guys I can count on.'''

That could translate into Bailey and the corners taking more chances because they know they've got help behind them.

"I've got one thing to do right now: That's get better and help this team win a championship,'' Bailey said. That's all I'm focused on. I feel good about where I am right now. But I want to feel better."

Follow Jim Corbett on Twitter @ByJimCorbett

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