As per the report that our Ty Walden passed along earlier, it appears as though star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware will be out for a couple of weeks, but could return in time for the Green Bay Packers game on November 1st after the Broncos’ bye.
This news is unfortunate considering Ware has been one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL this season, registering 12 hurries, 8 hits, and 5 sacks in the team’s first five games. This injury, however, is something the Broncos have been built to sustain, even for a longer period of time if need be.
John Elway has had his share of glamorous free agent selections and draft picks, but where he and the scouting department have been really excellent is in finding late-round gems to fill out this roster. One such player is former undrafted free agent Shaquil Barrett, once a former conference defensive player of the year at Colorado State.
Barrett’s pass rush prowess in college earned him some high marks from scouts, but for whatever reasons (there weren’t any from what I could tell…) he went undrafted and fell into the Broncos’ laps.
He spent most of last year on the practice squad before being added to the active roster at the end of the year, and the Broncos appear very fortunate that he didn’t somehow slip through the cracks.
Barrett has been sensational so far this season, and had the most sterling performance of his NFL career against the Oakland Raiders with seven tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and another QB hit. He was flying all over the field and not only did he play a key role with the defense, Barrett played 22 snaps on special teams.
Currently tied for third on the team with a pair of sacks so far this season, the Broncos are set to unleash their hidden gem to the rest of the NFL as Barrett will likely start in place of Ware next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. It’s going to be a tall order in what is likely to be his most extended NFL action of his young career, as the Browns have a phenomenal offensive line, but the Broncos will scheme ways to let Barrett do what he does best — get pressure on the quarterback.
He came around the edge untouched vs. Oakland to get the sack on Derek Carr this past Sunday:
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But he made an incredible play to force a fumble against the Detroit Lions this season as well…
We’re still looking for a video of that play that we can embed for you, but it was awesome and a major game-changer.
Barrett’s emergence this past Sunday was merely a taste of what is to come for the Broncos, even if Ware just misses one game. The depth of this unit allows him to take the time he needs to rest up and heal, because if Barrett needs some time to rest, the Broncos have this year’s first round pick in Shane Ray waiting to come off the sideline and provide a spark.
Ray already has two sacks this year in just 96 snaps, and is showing great improvement over these last couple of weeks.
With those two players helping out in relief of Ware, along with Lerentee McCray and Kenny Anunike who have yet to be activated this season by Denver, there’s no reason to think the pass rush won’t be just as ferocious against Cleveland.
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