The Packers have not been shy about investing high picks to protect Aaron Rodgers the last few years, but unfortunately the stars have not lined up for these picks to be as effective as the team would have preferred. Most of the problems to the Packers tackles last year was due to injuries suffered, and now the team is hoping that time has healed most of those wounds. One of the key players they hope to get back in the fold and step up is player who is a mystery to Packer fans, former first round pick Derek Sherrod.
Sherrod’s season last year was completely lost by a major injury suffered during the 2011 season. Last year at this time there was some hope that he would be able to return from training camp or possibly the start of the regular season, but as time went on and Sherrod remained on the PUP list it became more and more apparent that he was destined for injured reserve and that the Packers would have to make do without him for 2012.
Replacement is probably not the best word to use in this particular instance since Sherrod has never been a starter or received meaningful snaps since joining the Green Bay Packers. A better way to view this situation is by looking at who has benefited the most by Sherrod’s injury, which is undoubtedly last year’s starting tackle Marshall Newhouse. Sherrod has been the hope for a solid left tackle since he was drafted but that has not panned out yet due to circumstances beyond his control (the lockout, getting opportunities at left guard and right tackle but not left tackle, and then finally his leg injury). Last year at this time it was believed that Sherrod and Newhouse would have a camp competition for the starting role, but due to a lengthy recovery that competition never happened. Newhouse has steadily improved since getting extended playing time in 2011, but it seems he has a definite ceiling for his upside. He’s generally okay, but will often struggle against the elite physical talent pass rushers.
Merely saying that Sherrod’s recovery is murky right now is an understatement. There are positives signs present right now, such as Mike McCarthy stating that he sees Sherrod in the training room every day and positive reports about how his surgery was successful, but this injury has lingered for a long time. Sherrod will need to show that he can stay healthy and that he has not acquired too much rust from his significant time away from the football field. It’s not impossible, but it means that the Packers and their fans will have to wait until at least OTA’s to get a good idea of where Sherrod is at right now.
2013 Roster Preview
The bottom line is that it is way too early to give up on Sherrod, and thus he will have a spot on the roster in 2013. While looking at his situation it’s easy to conclude that the Packers have another player like Justin Harrell on their hands, a first round draft pick who seems to spend his entire career ridden with injuries and disappointment and simply soaking up a roster space due to his draft status, but jumping to this conclusion ignores just how the Packers and Sherrod have arrived at where they are with him right now. Sherrod has not had the benefit of any OTA’s, minicamps, rookie minicamps, or even offseason training sessions due to his health or the labor situation of the NFL. He has not had any meaningful snaps at his most natural position, left tackle. He has not been a part of a real competition for that position either. As such his time with the Packers has resulted in him being forced into foreign positions on the line with little to no coaching and preparation. This means that he has a lot to prove, but it also means he has yet to prove that he is not cut out for the NFL either.