Sherrod Stays Positive Through Bleak Times

Even now, as Derek Sherrod appears healthy and ready to show his stuff, his long-term future on the team is tenuous. That's because plenty has changed — for him and for others.

Three years ago, Derek Sherrod was a rookie first-round pick. The long-term goal was for him to become the Green Bay Packers’ left tackle of the future. The short-term goal was for him to compete at left guard.

Sherrod failed to win that job, then was so-so in extensive playing time at right tackle in an October game at Atlanta and at left tackle in a December home game against Oakland. A week after that Raiders game, Sherrod replaced injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga early in the second half at Kansas City. His career took a sharp U-turn in that game when he broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg. While the team flew back to Green Bay after its first and only loss of the regular season, Sherrod stayed behind for emergency surgery.

The hope was Sherrod would be able to play in 2012. He was put on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp, where he stayed until being allowed to practice in November. A couple weeks later, the Packers shut him down for good. Finally, the team discovered Sherrod’s leg hadn’t healed properly. Early in 2013, Sherrod had a second round of surgery.

“I always kept my confidence,” Sherrod said after Sunday’s practice. “We have a good training staff here and I was always just focused on getting back on the field because football is a short game but I have a love for it and always just wanted to get back and continue to have some fun out here with the boys.”

That second surgery was a success. He started the season on the PUP list, began practicing in November and played in the final eight games (including playoffs). He played six snaps at right tackle at Detroit on Nov. 28, his first action on offense in more than 23 months.

Now, the stage is set for Sherrod to perhaps show his first-round pedigree. He’s off to a strong start to training camp, including victories over Clay Matthews and Brad Jones in Sunday’s one-on-one pass-blocking drill.

“Yeah, I’m definitely out there playing,” Sherrod said. “I feel healthy, I’m running well, I’m going off the ball. I’m feeling very good and feeling very comfortable with the point where I’m at right now.”

By now, Sherrod should have been entrenched as the starting left tackle. Those 16 games that Marshall Newhouse started at left tackle in 2012 should have been Sherrod’s starts. There would have been no need to move Bulaga to left tackle in 2013, and no need to go all-in on rookie David Bakhtiari after Bulaga tore his ACL on Family Night.

Instead, injuries have changed the histories of all three of those offensive tackles. Bakhtiari is the left tackle of yesterday, today and plenty of tomorrows. Bulaga is back at right tackle.

And Sherrod?

Well, he’s toiling on the second team. If Bakhtiari and Bulaga stay healthy, Sherrod’s final season under contract will be limited to blocking on extra points and field goals. And he’ll enter free agency next offseason with almost no NFL resume, with zero career starts.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Sherrod said. “You can never control injuries. They come out of nowhere. Everybody is going to get injured at some point. All you can do is just bounce back and keep looking forward. If you get down on yourself, it’s just going to hurt you.”

Sherrod’s outlook is admirable. Through no fault of his own, he’s on his way to going into Packers history as a draft bust. In three seasons, he’s played 121 snaps on offense. He could have a strong training camp and never get on the field. He could have a bad training camp and be out of the league. Through it all, Sherrod’s stayed positive.

“Naturally, that’s how I am, but I have a big family support system and a lot of good coaches and teammates,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We’re a big family, and that’s what makes this organization great is we’re always pulling for each other and supporting each other.”

For now, Sherrod has been stationed at left tackle. He hasn’t taken a rep at any other position dating to the offseason. With Bakhtiari considered an ascending player, his chance of contributing on offense looks bleak.

That doesn’t matter to Sherrod, though. After missing the last two training camps, he’s having fun and focusing on getting better.

“I’m definitely enjoying it,” he said. “Any time that I’m out there a lot with my teammates, I get better. Just out there running plays with them is a great thing and I’m enjoying every minute of 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 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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