Broncos' best pass rusher is this linebacker not named Von or DeMarcus. Ron Chenoy milehighsports.com

Gary Kubiak never expected to notice No. 48 when he reviewed the team's 2014 practices.

Yet the newly-hired Broncos coach couldn't look away. Shaquil Barrett was that good -- that quick on tape -- as only a practice-squad player.

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"I think everybody knew they had a guy that was a surprise, who had done a lot of good things and that they thought could be a good player," Kubiak told ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "Then when we got into the minicamp and stuff, he just kept showing up."

And Barrett shows up even more on film with an increased role this season. He's the major reason why Denver's pass rush hasn't dwindled with injures to both DeMarcus Ware and Shane Ray.

He's also responsible for 3.5 of the team's league-leading 26 sacks. That's second on the team to Ware and tops the output of All-Pro Von Miller.

"You just see everybody making plays on this defense and you want to be one of those guys too," Barrett said. "I just want to make something happen whenever they put me out there."

They've been putting him out there a lot. Barrett plated 10 snaps against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. He played 71 total snaps just two weeks later.

The Broncos can't justify taking Barrett of the field now -- even if Ware returns for a showdown against the Packers.

"He has earned the right to go on the field," Kubiak said. "One thing about this league, if you ever step out there and do it, they can't take it away from you if you keep doing it."

(h/t ESPN)

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