Packers need Derek Sherrod healthy
Tackle Derek Sherrod. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - The Packers live and die with Aaron Rodgers. Recently ranked the NFL's number one quarterback by ESPN's Ron Jaworski, Rodgers is the key to the Packers success.
Regardless of any advances the Packers' much-maligned defense makes next season, if they can’t score points and keep their franchise QB on the field, victories will be few and far between.
The biggest challenge facing Rodgers and the Packers offense isn’t learning to incorporate new running backs, or living without Greg Jennings, it’s keeping Rodgers upright and healthy.
Rodgers was sacked 51 times in 2012, a career high, and has been sacked 211 times over his pro career.
In attempts to shore up the offensive line, the Packers moved Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton to the left side of the line. This move strengths Rodgers’s blindside, but leaves a question mark at right tackle.
In the line swap, Marshall Newhouse spent all of the off season workouts at right tackle, but after some inconsistent performances last season, the job is not solidly his.
Last season, Newhouse was credited with giving up 10 sacks. Backup Don Barclay is responsible for 3.5 of the 51 sacks on Aaron Rodgers.
In 2011, the Packers drafted the man to keep Aaron Rodgers upright; two years later, he’s still a question mark.
Derek Sherrod is potentially the missing piece to the Packers offensive line.
Sherrod spent four years playing tackle on both the left and right sides for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. His freshmen year, which he played 11 games at right tackle, the Bulldogs gave up only 21 sacks, and over his final three years he gave up only 2 sacks while playing mostly left tackle.
But the Derek Sherrod the Packers drafted in 2011 is not the 2013 Derek Sherrod.
After breaking both his tibia and fibula in December of 2011, Sherrod has had two surgeries and has yet to return to the practice field.
The tibia, located between the knee and the ankle, is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body and is approximately 4 times stronger than concrete. Breaking and repairing the bone requires a lot of work.
In 2006, while a senior at Louisville, Michael Bush broke both his tibia and fibula in the Cardinals season opener. Bush sat out the rest of the season and was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round the following spring.
After sitting out nearly two full seasons, Bush returned to the field in 2008 and played a backup running back role in 15 games. In the following years, Bush went on to play a key role in the Raiders offense.
In 2005, Tyrone Prothro was enjoying the high life on the Alabama campus. A junior wide out, he won the ESPY award for Best Play, yet his football career came to a screeching halt.
In October of 2005, Prothro broke both his tibia and fibula and after three surgeries, Alabama placed him on Medical Hardship Scholarship. Prothro is now a bank teller.
Will Sherrod finally return to the Packers this season and become a key contributor ala Michael Bush or is his story going to end like Prothro's?
The Packers need Sherrod. 2011's Sherrod was a better prospect than Newhouse, Don Barclay, and 2013 fourth round draft pick David Bakhitiari, but where 2013's Sherrod ranks is an unknown.
Sherrod was unable to practice all off season and his chances of starting training camp and the preseason on the physically unable to perform list are high.
But if Sherrod's leg and mind allow, he can be the final piece to the Packers offensive line puzzle. After two years of not practicing or playing,
Will Sherrod be able to shake off the rust and finally become the player that the Packers envisioned in 2011? Only time will tell.