David Zalubowski
January 09, 2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Bradley Roby could have been preparing for the national title game right now.

Instead, the Denver Broncos rookie cornerback is bracing to be picked on by Andrew Luck in an AFC divisional game against Indianapolis on Sunday.

It just may be a memorable weekend for Roby, whose Ohio State Buckeyes face Oregon on Monday night in the national championship game in Arlington, Texas.

He's hoping to be there cheering on his school from the sideline - after taking care of business against the Colts.

''Hopefully two wins,'' said Roby, who left Ohio State a year early and was picked by Denver with the 31st selection. ''I'm going to try to make it out there.''

This has been quite a rookie season for Roby as the third cornerback in a high-powered secondary. He had two interceptions and 13 pass breakups.

Roby is expecting to be challenged quite often by Luck on Sunday with Pro Bowl cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib on either side of him. Harris and Talib allowed just 46 receptions for 356 yards all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

When asked about Talib and Harris, Luck said, ''Very good. Studs. Both high quality players.''

Translation: Get ready Roby, because the action is coming your way.

''We need him to play huge,'' said Harris, an undrafted player out of Kansas. ''Usually, in the playoffs, they find the best matchup and most of the time when you have me and Talib, they're going to find the rookie. We expect him to play at a high level.''

Roby was up for the task in the season opener, when the Broncos held off the Colts 31-24. On fourth-and-6 from the Denver 39 and 1:57 remaining, Roby batted down a pass intended for Reggie Wayne to preserve the win.

That gave him confidence he carried throughout his first season. But he's a tough grader and gave himself a ''C'' for the year.

''It was OK,'' said Roby, who intercepted passes from Tom Brady and Derek Carr. ''Just because I know I can play a lot better than I did throughout the whole year. I learned a lot through the year.''

Harris said Roby was the kind of sponge he was when he first entered the league and leaned on Champ Bailey for advice.

''I thought he had a great rookie season,'' Harris said. ''I don't know if they come out with all-rookie teams. But with the season he had, the responsibilities he had this season, he definitely should get some type of rookie nomination.''

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio certainly isn't shy about relying on the rookie. Roby frequently lines up on slot receivers and keeps an eye on tailbacks out of the backfield. He could spend some time tailing Indy running back Daniel Herron, his former teammate at Ohio State.

''It's a big role for a young player to come in and embrace,'' Del Rio said. ''He's been involved from the beginning and throughout the whole season. He's had a good year, and having that kind of depth is imperative nowadays in today's NFL.''

Roby slid down the draft board last spring after some run-ins with the law, and he was the fifth cornerback selected.

''It's definitely a chip on my shoulder. I go out there and want to prove that I should have been'' drafted higher, he said. ''But at the same time, I think I was put here for a reason. I feel like the things that happened to me happened for a reason for me to be here.

''I really feel like all the teams that I wanted to get drafted to, if I was there right now, I think I'd be miserable. I think I'm in a perfect position right now learning from Pro Bowl guys, in a championship organization. So I can't thank the man upstairs enough for putting me here.''

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed.

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