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Shaquil Barrett says he expects to be ready for Bucs’ 2023 season opener

The edge rusher suffered a torn Achilles tendon in late October.
Veteran Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) tore his Achilles tendon early in the second half of a Thursday-night loss to the Ravens Oct. 27 at Raymond James Stadium.
Veteran Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) tore his Achilles tendon early in the second half of a Thursday-night loss to the Ravens Oct. 27 at Raymond James Stadium. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jan. 17|Updated Jan. 17

TAMPA — The role of emotionally invested spectator didn’t suit Shaquil Barrett. Like his fan base, the veteran Bucs edge rusher could only watch — and wince — helplessly Monday night as his unit failed to neutralize the Cowboys.

“I feel so much more emotion watching than when I’m actually on the field, because on the field I’m thinking of making the next play trying to change it,” said Barrett, sidelined the final 10 games due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. “But there’s nothing I could do on the sideline, so it’s so much harder watching.”

Barring a complication in his rehab, he won’t have to stand idly by any longer. Speaking to reporters for the first time since being placed on injured reserve in late October, Barrett said he’s hopeful of being ready for the 2023 opener.

“The latest possible (date) I’d say would be right for the regular season,” Barrett told reporters late Tuesday morning inside the team locker room, where various players gathered their belongings in garbage bags. “So I’m just taking my time, a day at a time, but it’s a long process, a long road ahead. But I’ll do everything I can to be ready for the first game.”

Barrett, who turned 30 in November, suffered the injury in the third quarter of a Thursday-night home loss to the Ravens on Oct. 27. Prior to exiting, he already had recorded a sack of Lamar Jackson and three tackles for loss. He ended the season with 31 tackles, three sacks, six tackles for loss, six quarterbacks hits and a forced fumble.

“The Achilles is healing pretty well, almost back to my normal walking stride,” said Barrett, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal roughly a month after the Bucs won Super Bowl 55.

“Physically, I’m feeling as good as I can be feeling right now, but (Monday) night was tough, hard. It was a hard season and, yeah, just a hard season, especially not being able to help and contribute to anything.”

He said he’s experiencing no pain and can stretch with no discomfort but acknowledges restoring his full range of motion will require time and patience.

“I don’t know what that road’s going to be like when I start running and start trying to push off, but I’m looking forward to it,” Barrett said. “And I’m going to do as much as they let me do until they tell me that I need to slow down a little bit.”

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