Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett took a big step in his recovery from a hip injury that sidelined him for all of training camp Tuesday when he rejoined the team for football activities. According to defensive coordinator Joe Woods, it was like Barrett was never gone.

“Right now we’re playing it day-by-day,” Woods told the media Wednesday about his plan for Barrett moving forward. “It’s a decision that our trainer is going to make. We’re giving him some reps and increasing them every day. Right now, yesterday was like he was never gone. He made some great plays bending the edge, taking and getting off the blocks. He did a great job – I watched one-on-one’s. Right now athletically it looks like he’s ready to go but we just have to take it day-by-day and let the trainers and doctors make that decision.”

Barrett, undrafted out of Colorado State in 2014, was a surprise standout for the Broncos in 2015 as part of the Super Bowl-winning team. With DeMarcus Ware sidelined periodically with back issues that season, Barrett compiled 50 tackles (35 solo) and 5.5 sacks. He forced four fumbles and defended on four pass attempts to bolster his case for a prominent role the following year. His numbers dipped a bit in 2016 when he was no longer surprising anyone, but he still posted a respectable 36 tackles (23 solo) and 1.5 sacks.

The 24-year-old was anticipating an even bigger year in 2017 when an offseason workout resulted in the hip injury that has kept him sidelined until Tuesday.

Barrett was happy to be back on the field, saying Tuesday, “It’s fun. I’m happy to be back out here. I was in treatment every day, getting better. I got tired of treatment. I feel as though, when it was time for me to be able to play, I was ready to come out here and play and try to help contribute to the team.”

He initially feared the injury might be season-ending, but now has his sights set on playing in the regular season opener on Sept. 11. That timetable might be overly optimistic; however, Denver has plenty of depth at outside linebacker despite Barrett’s injury and the wrist injury Shane Ray suffered during training camp.

“[Vontarrius] Dora, [Kasim] Edebali – all those guys – Danny Mason, they’ve all been competing,” Woods said Wednesday. “Each of those guys are a little bit different. Edebali has a great motor, he just plays hard and he out works guys. Dora’s been here, he can do a little bit of both, he’s strong and styled against the run. Danny Mason has great athleticism. He’s just new and he’s just learning right now. I feel collectively as a group, and putting DeMarcus Walker in there, I feel like we’ll be okay at the outside linebacker position.”

Walker was drafted as a pass-rushing defensive end out of Florida State, but Denver plans to utilize him in a variety of ways including as an edge rusher.

“Right now, he’s only moved to the outside linebacker position but he’s definitely a hybrid type of player for us. He can play the outside linebacker position but we can also move him around on third down as a pass rusher. He has that ability. We need just need to make sure we take the time to teach him that position because part of this is you do it in practice but you don’t really get a true evaluation until you have to do it in a game,” Woods said.

Denver’s edge rush will also get a boost from what it’s been so far in the preseason when Von Miller takes the field for the first time in game action this year.

Head Coach Vance Joseph said Miller will start this week against Green Bay, although he did not say how many snaps.

As for who will be starting opposite Miller until Barrett and Ray are at full strength, Woods says that responsibility falls on the free agent from New Orleans, Edebali.

“We’re trying to work a little rotation there, but Edebali right now is the starter at that position,” Woods said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate with each game.”

Barrett’s evaluation will be ongoing as well. Based on what he has shown since his return to the practice field, he could find himself back in the lineup soon.