Putting Spring in Sherrod's Steps

By now, Derek Sherrod was supposed to be the Packers' starting left tackle. Instead, Sherrod, who is entering his fourth season, is finally going through his first offseason practices.

Derek Sherrod, for the first time in his NFL career, is going through offseason workouts and practices.

As the Green Bay Packers' first-round pick in 2011, the offseason was wiped out by the lockout. During his rookie season, he sustained a broken leg that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season. The recovery lasted deep into 2013, with Sherrod sitting out the offseason, going on the PUP list at the start of training camp and not joining the active roster until Nov. 5.

"It's meant a lot," Sherrod said following Tuesday's minicamp practice. "Technically, it's my first offseason activities and just going through and getting all these extra reps and going through the plays and actually running them, that was very beneficial. I felt like it was all beneficial."

Sherrod wound up playing in seven games, with all of his action coming on special teams other than a six-snap stint at the end of the blowout loss at Detroit. It was the one bright spot of a dismal Thanksgiving, given Sherrod's long and arduous road back, but going through individual workouts, organized team activities and the minicamp is much more valuable than a little mopup duty.

"Huge, huge, because he's never had an offseason," offensive line coach James Campen said. "I mean, you see his movements out there. We just got done watching the tape today (and) the kid looks terrific. The next step for him is to get him into the daily grind, put the pads on and go pound it. That's his next step. But we've been very pleased with where he's come from."

At this point — barring injury, of course — Sherrod will wind up being a wasted draft pick. There's no reason to believe that David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round selection last year, won't be the starting left tackle for at least the next few years. And Bryan Bulaga is the clear favorite to start at right tackle, with Don Barclay — not Sherrod — being the only challenger.

Sherrod, who was drafted to be the left tackle of the future, has been locked in at that spot throughout the offseason. That, however, doesn't mean his opportunities won't be expanded during training camp.

"Like coach (Mike McCarthy) had said earlier in camp, let's put him where he's most comfortable. Does that necessarily mean he'll be there? Who knows? But point being, let's get his feet, his movement skills, everything tied together so he's hitting on all cylinders before you start trying to do something else. Get him comfortable (first). But he has certainly done a fine job this camp."

Sherrod is entering the final season of his rookie contract — a four-year deal in which about $5.33 million of the $6.61 million was guaranteed. Not surprisingly, considering he has zero starts and played in 12 of a possible 48 regular-season games, the club chose not to pick up his fifth-year option. That option would pay him the average of the third- through 25th-highest paid offensive tackles. That's $7.438 million.

Sherrod's focus, however, is on self-improvement, not his next payday. The time lost on the playing field meant gains made in the weight room.

"I'm just coming in and I've had the same focus before they made that decision and I have the same focus now. I'm just going out there doing my job and help this team win the Super Bowl."

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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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