For most first-round picks, six snaps in a must-win game against a division rival would be a major disappointment.
For Derek Sherrod, it was a milestone.
It had been 101 weeks since Sherrod had played in a game. But, with the Packers getting blitzed at Detroit, Sherrod entered the game at right tackle for the Packers' final possession. It was his first game action since breaking his leg at Kansas City on Dec. 18, 2011.
"It has been a while since I've gotten actual a rep with the offense (so) it was definitely a milestone," Sherrod said in the stunned silence of the visitors' locker room on Thursday.
If you're searching for silver linings, Sherrod's return would be one. By now, he should have been entrenched in the starting lineup. Instead, the devastating injury cost him almost two seasons. He practiced for a couple of weeks while on the physically unable to perform list last year before being shut down. He was put on the physically unable to perform list again this season. After three weeks of practice, Sherrod was added to the active roster on Nov. 5. He was inactive for his first game and played on the field-goal and extra-point units the previous two weeks before getting his first shot on offense at Detroit.
"It was good for Derek," coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday morning. "If there was anything you felt good about walking off the field, that was about it. Just the fact to get him back on the field. It's been two years. Just with what he's gone through and the amount of work that he's put in. That's exactly what he needs."
Since he began practicing in mid-October, the coaches have said Sherrod needs as much work in pads as possible after missing training camp the past two seasons. That's been difficult, however, due to NFL practice rules, the Packers' injury situation and the challenge of practicing with a Thursday game. Over the last three weeks, the Packers practiced just once in pads.
"His body is completely changed," offensive line coach James Campen said recently. "I'm sure you guys can see it, too. He's leaned out, he's upright and tall and stronger and all the arrows are pointing up for him. He just needs reps."
With no practice until Wednesday, McCarthy has a lot of things to contemplate this weekend. One of them will be what to do with the offensive line. Will center Evan Dietrich-Smith be ready after sustaining a knee injury on Thursday? If not, T.J. Lang would go to center. The Packers finished the game with Marshall Newhouse at right guard and Don Barclay at right tackle. Could Sherrod get into that mix?
"I hope so," McCarthy said. "Hey, we're going to put the best ones out there."
For Sherrod, not even the lopsided score could hide a slight smile. It had been a long, long road back.
"I felt good just to get out there," Sherrod said. "Obviously, not the situation that I thought of but just having the plays out there, it felt good."
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