Packers right tackle Derek Sherrod gains confidence
Packers right tackle Derek Sherrod blocks the Jets’ Sheldon Rich ardson. Sherrod started in place of the injured Bryan Bulaga.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, listed as questionable with a sprained knee even though he practiced all week, was declared inactive.
That meant Derek Sherrod, one of the goats in the debacle in Seattle, would have to make the first regular-season start of his four-year career against the fierce, formidable and massive front seven of the New York Jets.
The Packers won’t know until tape review how Sherrod fared. Certainly his performance merited a higher grade than 10 days earlier, and partially as a result the offense gained 390 yards and the Packers won, 31-24, at Lambeau Field.
“It’s hard for me to watch the right tackle but he felt solid,” said T.J. Lang, the right guard. “His communication was good. He was fine.”
Sherrod gave up a 4-yard sack on the Packers’ second snap when outside linebacker Quinton Coples took advantage of extra time taken by Aaron Rodgers.
Coples slipped by Sherrod outside in much the same way that Seahawk defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett maneuvered around him for sacks.
Two plays later, Rodgers went down in a heap when the Jets rushed seven and the outnumbered Packers had just six blockers.
In the fourth quarter, Rodgers held the ball forever on his third sack. Lang said he played a stunt poorly and outside linebacker Calvin Pace registered the Jets’ fourth and final sack.
“As an offensive lineman you never want to let your defender touch the quarterback,” Sherrod said. “I’ll just have to improve and play better. I really don’t pay attention … if I do good or bad I just roll with it to the next play.”
On Thursday and again on Friday, Lang said that he expected Bulaga to start.
“I didn’t think Bryan was playing at all,” Lang admitted. “I didn’t want the Jets to know. We knew he had a slight chance but we weren’t counting on him.”
Although Sherrod took the majority of the reps with the No. 1 offense, nobody could be sure what his confidence level would be given his struggles in the Pacific Northwest.
“His confidence never went down,” said Lang. “With the group of guys we have everybody just knows that when you have a game like that you’ve got to be a man about it and play better. I thought he had a great week of practice.”
Center Corey Linsley read the Jets’ shifting defense all day and didn’t think there were instances where Sherrod was targeted for exploitation.
“I didn’t notice that at all,” said Linsley. “Obviously, I had confidence in Derek.
“Derek’s a grown man. He knows he could play better than he did in Seattle. He obviously did tonight.”
From his various locations in and around the formation, tight end Andrew Quarless said there were times he was deployed near Sherrod to help pick up overloaded blitz situations.
In Mike McCarthy’s high-octane offense, there really is no provision to offer either tackle significant double-team assistance. As offensive coordinator Tom Clements put it Thursday, Sherrod just had to get his man blocked.
“Everybody has to be accountable,” Quarless said. “You’ve got to step up. I think he had a way better game than last week.”
It remains to be seen if Bulaga will be in uniform at Ford Field Sunday to face the Detroit Lions’ fast front four.
Even if Sherrod never starts another game, he could walk away Sunday evening knowing he prevented a jailbreak in his sector and contributed to a much-needed triumph.
“You’re always proud when you’re a part of such a great organization,” said Sherrod. “I was always confident. I know what I can do and all the things the guys can do. Everybody has a role on this team.”
As the swing tackle, Sherrod made amends Sunday for what happened to him in Seattle.
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Derek Lee Sherrod (born April 23, 1989) is an American football offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played college football at Mississippi State.