ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The fresh-legged pass rusher lined up against Denver’s newly anointed starting left tackle Garett Bolles on Tuesday and promptly bowled the rookie first-round draft pick over.
Welcome back, Shaq Barrett .
The Denver Broncos’ battered defensive front got a big boost with Barrett’s return from a right hip injury that had sidelined him since the spring.
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”It’s good to have him back,” coach Vance Joseph said. ”That group looks different with Shaq back there.”
The Broncos have been battered by injuries at outside linebacker with Shane Ray tearing a ligament in his left wrist on the second day of training camp and rookie DeMarcus Walker dealing with a hip-flexor injury, although he, too, returned to practice Tuesday.
Also sidelined are defensive ends Derek Wolfe (ankle) and Jared Crick (back).
Barrett participated in individual drills after being moved from the non-football injury list to the active roster. Joseph said he hopes to have Barrett back by the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Barrett tore the labrum in his right hip in May while he was working out on his own in Omaha. His right knee locked when he landed a jump, jamming his femur into his hip.
”I knew something happened but I didn’t think it was that bad,” Barrett said. ”I talked to the trainers right away because after like 20 minutes as it cooled off I was in a little bit of pain.”
The Broncos initially feared that Barrett needed season-ending surgery but noted Vail surgeon Dr. Marc Philippon told him he could avoid surgery with a nearly three-month treatment program.
”I’m happy to get back out here,” Barrett said. ”I was in treatment every day, getting better. But I got tired of treatment.”
Although the highlight of his day was plowing Bolles over, Barrett’s work was closely monitored and he didn’t get into any team drills.
”They kind of eased me in today. They limited everything I did,” Barrett said. ”I appreciate them for that. If I can do more, I will do more because I’m eager to get back going as quick as possible. But they want to be smart with me and I want to be smart with me so I won’t get re-injured.”
The Broncos’ rash of injuries on defense had threatened to hamper Von Miller like last season, when his sackless final month prevented him from winning Defensive Player of the Year honors and helped keep Denver out of the playoffs.
So, Miller might have been the only one happier than Barrett on the field Tuesday.
”He’d be the premier rusher on any other team. So, to have him back on the field means a lot,” Miller said. ”It gives a little bit of some security.”
Notes: Also returning to practice were WR Emmanuel Sanders (shoulder) and S T.J. Ward (hamstring).
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