Don Barclay's season-ending ACL injury and the likelihood that at least one of the Green Bay Packers' starting tackles will suffer an injury makes it a near certainty the Packers will need 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod at some point in 2014.
Barclay left Tuesday's practice on a cart after sustaining a knee injury. While Mike McCarthy was initially hopeful his injury was nothing serious, Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press Gazette reported Barclay had indeed suffered a torn ACL. He will eventually undergo surgery and miss the 2014 season.
Barclay was not a projected starter along the offensive line, but he figured to be a top backup at several positions, including at right tackle. The 25-year-old former undrafted free agent has made 18 career starts, with 14 of those 18 coming at right tackle last season. He was penciled in as the primary backup to Bryan Bulaga at right tackle and to T.J. Lang at right guard, and he was one of the only Packers linemen with the versatility to play all five positions along the line if needed.
"Donny, they don't come any better than him," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's exactly what you're looking for. If you want someone to emulate as a Green Bay Packer football player on and off the field, he's definitely one of your guys."
Given the recent injury history of the tackle position in Green Bay, losing Barclay must be considered an undeniable setback.
The Packers haven't had their left and right tackle both start all 16 games since 2007, when Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher manned the bookends all season. During each of the last six seasons, Green Bay has needed to call on a backup to start at least one game.
Bulaga might be the biggest worry in 2014. He played in 16 games (with 12 starts) as a rookie, but he hasn't made it through an entire season injury-free since. In 2011, he missed four games. A year later, a brutal hip injury cost him the final seven games. And in 2013, Bulaga didn't even make it out of the Family Night scrimmage. He tore his ACL and missed the entire season.
Bakhtiari, a second-year starter at left tackle, played all 16 games in 2013.
Sherrod is listed as Bakhtiari's backup on the left side, but he'll almost certainly slide into Barclay's role behind Bulaga on the right.
"Derek has been working some right tackle," McCarthy said Tuesday. "Derek can move over to the right."
Green Bay's first round pick in 2011, Sherrod has played just six offensive snaps since breaking his leg in Week 15 of his rookie season. He does not have a start in NFL.
"Fully recovered," McCarthy said of Sherrod last week. "You could see that in his balance. That was the one thing that would stand out to me, watching him workout and move. Much stronger. He just needs to play. He needs a full training camp, which he hasn't had. I think he's coming back very strong."
So far in camp, Sherrod has a strong record in 1-on-1 drills. But the Packers won't have any idea where he is at until the exhibition schedule begins Saturday night. If Sherrod folds, the Packers may need to acquire help at tackle before the start of the regular season.
"I think he's had a hell of a camp," Lang said. "He looks bigger, he looks stronger, he looks quicker. It's definitely good to have some insurance, him being that third tackle."
If Sherrod sticks, there's a very strong possibility he'll be called on to play important snaps in 2014.
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