GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson say it every offseason: It is not the rookies who will make the difference for the Green Bay Packers but rather the returning players.
With that in mind, we continue our look at some returning players who need to take their game to another level in 2014.
Next, it's tackle Derek Sherrod.
Why he has to step up: Entering his fourth NFL season, the former first-round draft pick has yet to start a single game. In three years, he has appeared in only 13 games (including one in the postseason). Seven of those came last season, when he finally returned to the active roster for the first time since he broke both bones in his lower right leg on Dec. 18, 2011. Sherrod took only six snaps on offense last season. The rest of his playing time came on special teams. This offseason, the Packers declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his deal, meaning he is in the final year of his rookie contract.
What he has to do: With his leg injury apparently behind him, Sherrod was able to participate in the entire offseason program for the first time in his career. Now, he must transfer that offseason work over to training camp and preseason action and show that he's still the player the Packers envisioned when they picked him 32nd overall in 2011.
Outlook: Offensive line coach James Campen kept Sherrod at right tackle behind starter Bryan Bulaga the entire offseason. Most backup offensive linemen must play multiple positions, but the Packers want Sherrod to concentrate on a single position given all the time that he has missed because of the broken leg.
Quotable: "The kid looks terrific," Campen said. "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."