NFL Green Bay Packers

Derek Sherrod is Key to Green Bay Packers’ Success in 2013

Derek Sherrod

Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Sherrod just became one of the most important players on the Green Bay Packers. That’s not good. It’s never good for a team when one of your key players hasn’t played since Week 15 of the 2011 season and still hasn’t been cleared for practice thus far into 2013.

Starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga’s knee injury, suffered in Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage, is a devastating blow to both the Packers and to Bulaga’s injury-marred career. Results are now confirmed: Bulaga suffered an ACL tear, as feared, and his season is over.

This leaves a huge opening at the left tackle spot. Last season’s starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse, has been moved over to right tackle, due to his established failings as a left tackle. Presumably, he can move back to left tackle if needed, but this is less than ideal for Green Bay’s plans to keep Aaron Rodgers upright more often in 2013.

The Packers should be covered for this latest injury to a front-line starter. Sherrod was selected with the Packers’ first overall selection in the 2011 draft for the purpose of becoming their left tackle of the present and future. Unfortunately for him and Green Bay, it has not worked out that way.

Sherrod remains a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, 321 pounds. The athleticism he displayed in college at Mississippi State has been largely unseen in Green Bay due to the traumatic leg injury he suffered in week 15 in 2011 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Sherrod has still not fully recovered from the injury and remains out of action on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

With Bulaga now gone, the Packers have a few options. If Sherrod can be the player they anticipated, there is a good chance Bulaga’s injury does not deter the Packers from what looks like another playoff-bound season. However, if Sherrod remains on the sideline — or worse — never fully recovers to become the talent he was drafted to be, Green Bay is looking at either moving the ineffective Newhouse back to left tackle, or starting 2013 fourth-round draft pick David Bakhtiari at the left tackle spot.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy noted last week that Newhouse is running with the ones on the right side. Bakhtiari also received praise from McCarthy last week and is backing up both tackle spots. The best possible scenario for Green Bay is for Sherrod to return to form and claim the left tackle spot. Otherwise, the Packers are looking at going back to the player that was a major culprit in Rodgers’ 51 sacks last season, or plugging in a rookie mid-round draft pick to protect the franchise’s blind side.

Julian Rogers is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter (@mrturophile), or connect with him on Facebook and Google+.