Packers tackle Sherrod takes a big step

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Derek Sherrod tried to downplay it. After all, it was only a preseason game.

Besides, the Green Bay Packers offensive tackle suited up for seven regular-season games last season.

But this was different.

Sherrod actually played. And played and played.

The six snaps he saw in the Thanksgiving 2013 blowout loss at Detroit aside, the former first-round draft pick had not played any extended stretch of offensive snaps since he broke both bones in his lower right leg late in his rookie season of 2011. Most of his action when he returned to the roster late last season for the first time in nearly two years came on special teams, which meant a play and a play there.

This, however, was a 45-snap stint with the No. 2 offensive line in Saturday's preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans that just may have represented an important step in his comeback, if for no other reason than it may have been a mental hurdle he needed to clear.

Except he did not quite see it that way.

"Not really," Sherrod said. "Going into training camp, I was ready to go, 100 percent."

Sherrod came on in relief of starting left tackle David Bakhtiari for the second series against the Titans and finished the half before moving to right tackle to start the third quarter. He did not allow a sack and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, he did not give up a quarterback hit or pressure, either.

"Derek, frankly, that might be the best he's played since he's been here," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "So I thought he definitely took a step."

Sherrod's importance to the Packers was heightened last week when Don Barclay was lost for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Barclay was the Packers' swing tackle who also could back up both guard spots.

If Sherrod shows he can perform well and hold up over long stretches, it would ease Barclay's loss.

"I'm really proud of him, the way he's handled his business," offensive line coach James Campen said. "The thing that people don't understand is the amount of work that was done to get him prepared for this moment, to be able to go out and compete. It's a great tribute to him and who's he about and what he's about. He's as classy of a kid as they come. He will earn everything that he gets. It's been a long road for him, but we're past that. It's a bright future for him. It's exciting to see him out there playing. It's fun."