What that means is not entirely clear because the Packers and Sherrod have gone out of their way to not say anything revealing about the 2011 first-round pick's rehab from a broken leg sustained Dec. 18 at Kansas City.
"He's getting closer," coach Mike McCarthy said on Sunday in the most illuminating answer to the weekly Sherrod question. "He's a little frustrated. I had a chance to watch him in his rehab the other day. He's hitting the targets that he needs to down there. But as far as how close we are to being on the field, that's obviously something that will be heightened as this week goes on."
The obvious reason why Sherrod wasn't placed on PUP is he's coming back strong from rehab and is close to returning to the practice field.
The other possibility is one we mentioned on Sunday in our third roster prediction. A player on PUP can't get on the practice field until Week 6, and the team has a three-week window to activate the player or put him on season-ending injured reserve.
For Sherrod, who missed all of the offseason work and will have a lot of rust to kick off before being ready to play in a game, he'll need all the practice time he can get once the medical staff clears him to return to action. So, for sake of example, if Sherrod is cleared to practice in Week 3, that's four weeks earlier than he could if he had been placed on PUP. The coaches could bring him along slowly, without the urgency of a three-week window.
"I have no idea, I really don't," offensive line coach James Campen said when asked how long it would take Sherrod to go from the practice field to the playing field. "Once he's cleared to go, I can promise you this: That kid will go as fast as he can go, I know that about the kid. He's eager to get back out there. Once he's cleared, he'll give you everything he's got. He's that type of character kid. He's a heck of a kid."
The gamble is the Packers need to stay relatively healthy early in the season because they'd essentially be playing with a 52-man roster while Sherrod rehabs and/or goes through his version of training camp in September and possibly October. During that time, Sherrod would be taking one of the seven inactive spots on gameday, which isn't a big deal if the Packers are healthy, but would be a big deal if there are a rash of injuries.
Helping Sherrod is he's smart — he earned his degree before his senior season and was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (aka the Academic Heisman) as a senior.
"Derek does a good job in the meetings," Campen said. "This last week, he came with us. He's been helping the other guys because he was a rookie last year, just to help them with their techniques and what they're seeing. So, he's been active and staying in it."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.