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There is something to be said about hard work and dedication to your craft. Just ask Denver Broncos second-year standout Shaquil Barrett.
Barrett’s worked his way from undrafted free agent to the Broncos practice squad, to now starting at the NFL level. On Thursday, head coach Gary Kubiak spoke highly of the former Colorado State outside linebacker. “He’s going to play more than he’s ever played,” Kubiak explained. “I think we’re going to find out a lot about him here over the course of the next few weeks because now you know you’re the starter, you know you’re going to play a lot. We’ll see, but his work has been really good.”
Barrett’s individual play has been out-shined by the overall performance of the defense that ranks No. 1 in the NFL. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t contributed; Barrett has 31 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Not too shabby for an undrafted free agent. Barrett, who’s filled in for DeMarcus Ware when the 11-year veteran has needed a breather and when he wasn’t able to play in Week Six, now becomes a regular starter for the orange and blue. It allows the injured Ware to take time to heal; he is expected to miss Sunday against Kansas City and up to a month.
Kubiak likes what he sees out of Barrett and Broncos’ linebacker leader Von Miller was optimistic about playing with the second-year stud. “I’ve got a lot of partners in crime,” Miller said. “You’ve got Shaquil Barrett; he’s looking good in practice this week”
Barrett had a subpar outing Sunday, totaling only two tackles and zero sacks. That should change at home against Alex Smith and the Chiefs as Kansas City is allowing a sack every 10 pass attempts.
Denver was out of character all game last week in Indianapolis, a game in which Denver suffered their first loss of the season, 27-24. Andrew Luck and the Colts rushed for 120 yards and held the ball for more than 17 minutes than Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Also, all eight penalties also came from the defensive side of the ball.
“Penalties are mistakes,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told the media Thursday. “Just like missed tackles, blown assignments or those kinds of things. That’s the way that we approach it. We can’t make mistakes. We’re going to be aggressive. Penalties sometimes happen in ball games. We just have to make sure that there are no post-play penalties at all. That’s unacceptable.”
Barrett has played well this season and has earned his spot of the field. As long as he can avoid the injury bug, the former CSU star should shine bright for years to come. It doesn’t hurt having DeMarcus and Von guiding him along the way either.