Injury Grows Sherrod's Love for Football

Derek Sherrod continues to make strides on the comeback trail following a broken leg sustained late in 2011.

Derek Sherrod has about 22 months of rust to knock off.

The last two weeks have been a step in the right direction.

"I've felt a lot more comfortable (compared to last week)," Sherrod said. "Just getting back used to the different drills, back to the practice tempo. Just working pretty hard at it and everything's going pretty good."

Sherrod, the Packers' first-round pick in 2011, broke his leg at Kansas City on Dec. 18, 2011. Like this season, he opened last season on the physically unable to perform list. He practiced for two weeks before the Packers decided to shut him down for the year.

It's a different story this year. Next week will be Sherrod's third week of practice. At the end of that 21-day window — Tuesday, Nov. 5, in his case — the Packers will have to decide whether to add Sherrod to the roster, place him on injured reserve or release him.

At this point, it seems clear that Sherrod will be added to the roster.

"I think it's promising. It's definitely much better than it was when the season started," coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday. "I think he clearly has moved past just the mobility part that you originally had some concerns. He needs the padded work, the time you'd usually get in training camp. So, I know he's doing some extra drill work and things like that and we're trying to get him as acclimated as possible."

The rocky start to his NFL career has been a challenge for Sherrod, who no doubt expected to be entrenched in the starting lineup by now.

"I missed it a lot. Just being out there and having to watch, it was pretty tough," Sherrod said. "I knew as long as I kept working hard and kept pushing myself that I'd be at a point where I would be out there with my pads on and out there with my teammates again."

Sherrod said there were times when the long wait and monotonous rehab sessions tried his patience. He leaned on his family and his teammates to get him through. His love for the game only grew from not being able to compete.

"I've never been out of football for that long of period of time before and it makes you definitely think about it a lot more," he said. "You always know that you're susceptible to being injured but it just makes you appreciate it a lot more. I definitely have even more of a love for the game."

The offensive line has been a bedrock for the Packers this season. Given the production from that unit and that Sherrod won't have anything resembling a preseason to help him get ready for the play-after-play-after-play grind of a game, there's a chance the rest of this season will only serve as a way to get him ready to compete for a starting job next season.

Regardless, offensive line coach James Campen is thrilled to have Sherrod back.

"It was kind of nice to see," Campen said last week. "Weren't you guys glad to see him out there? I mean, the kid had a bad injury and that kid is as classy as they come. That kid is as fine a human being as you'll ever meet in this world. I'm just happy that he's got his helmet out there playing football. That's a big athletic man that was drafted here for a reason."

Having never been down this road before, Sherrod said he had no idea when he might be ready to play in a game.

For now, all he can do is work and make the most out of every rep he gets in practice.

"I'm just taking each practice and using the most out of it," he said. "That's why we have practice is to try to get a little bit better every single day."


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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