As mentioned in our recent "Look at Packers Players Coming Off Injuries," despite Bryan Bulaga being the assumed starter at right tackle for the Packers in 2014, it wouldn't be surprising to see him withheld from practice on Thursday when Organized Team Actitivies are open to the public for the first time this year.
Bulaga is more than nine months removed from a torn ACL that landed him on injured reserve, which should put him well on the road to recovery, but the Packers aren't the type of team that's going to rush a player back from injury, particularly in May with the start of the season still more than three months away.
At best, Bulaga might take part in some activities or drills but would be put on some kind of "pitch count," rotated in and out in order keep him fresh and not put too much stress on his surgically-repaired knee.
The question is, who will line up with the first-string offense when Bulaga is out of the lineup: Derek Sherrod or Don Barclay?
Perhaps the better question for observers, onlookers and fans is, who deserves first crack as the backup swing tackle during the 2014 offseason? The issue has less to do with Bulaga than either tackle spot. What happens if either Bulaga or David Bakhtiari is out of the lineup?
The past two seasons, Barclay has emerged as a starter at right tackle when Bulaga has been injured. He's become a reliable player, a guy that knows the ins and outs of the offense.
Barclay also has the ability to play all five positions on the offensive line in a pinch. That alone makes him a valuable asset.
But Barclay is also a known quantity. While reliable, he's not an All-Pro. He's prone to struggle with speed rushers coming off the edge.
Sherrod, meanwhile, is the former first round draft pick, a player fans have been waiting to make a full comeback from injury ever since his gruesome broken leg suffered in December of 2011.
Yes, Sherrod saw the field in 2013. But a total of six snaps on offense and playing on the place-kick protection unit hardly qualifies as a full-fledged comeback.
There's a now-or-never feeling about Sherrod in 2014. About two and a half years removed from injury, if Sherrod doesn't make major strides and return to his pre-injury form, there's a chance he never will.
As OTAs and minicamp take place over the course of the next month, does Sherrod deserve the opportunity to prove how much progress he's made at the expense of Barclay?
It's a worthwhile question.
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