Packers look for Sherrod to rebound against Raiders
Derek Sherrod's struggles in Saturday's 21-7 win over the St. Louis Rams were alarming, but not enough to send the Green Bay Packers into panic mode quite yet.
Coming off a good showing in the Packers' preseason opener against Tennessee, the fourth-year tackle got off to a wretched start against the Rams in conceding two quick quarterback hits on Scott Tolzien to Rams defensive end Eugene Sims.
Later in the game, he gave up Michael Sam's first NFL sack of Matt Flynn. At the opposite tackle post, Aaron Adams, conceded a sack, two quarterback hits and an additional hurry, according to Pro Football Focus.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday he doesn't believe "the sky isn't falling" in the wake of the reserve offensive line struggles on the speedy turf of the Edward Jones Dome.
Position coach James Campen took a similar stance. He considers Saturday a learning experience and expects a better start when the No. 2 offensive line takes the field Friday against Oakland.
"They were rough there the first series, obviously," Campen said. "The second series, they gave up some hits and a sack. As the game, when you really watch what they did, their production from there on out was pretty solid. So it was the first time against good defensive people on the turf, the speeds are a little different.
"But carrying it forward really for both of them it's just trusting your own technique. You always want to give your opponent credit, but you don't want to give them too much credit and then pull yourself out of your own fundamentals. That's what happened with them."
The Packers had been planning for third-year swing tackle Don Barclay to be the primary backup on the line, but he underwent reconstructive knee surgery on Thursday and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. A new candidate must emerge from a room heralded for its depth throughout camp.
Sherrod, who missed nearly two years with a twice-broken leg, still appears to be the leader in the clubhouse. Fifth-round center Corey Linsley worked at guard for the first time in camp this past week and second-year guard Lane Taylor spent all of the 2013 season on the Packers' active roster.
The coaching staff is high on Adams, too. As the only player to start and finish on the Packers' practice squad last season, the Packers have taken a long look at Adams so far. His 106 offensive snaps are the most of any other Packers' player through the first two preseason games.
"He can learn from them," Campen said. "He did within the course of the game. He had a rough start there, too. Both of those guys let the defense worry about speed and turf instead of doing their own fundamentals. Once they got that handled, they were fine."
While Sherrod likely is best option behind starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, he's not really suited to playing the interior. That leaves Taylor as the best bet to spell guard T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton going into the regular season.
Taylor (6-3, 324) has given up one quarterback hit in 87 snaps in the preseason, according to Pro Football Focus, and seems to have taken a step from his rookie season when the Packers liked him enough to give the former Oklahoma State guard a $7,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent.
"He's playing with more urgency," Campen said. "He's hit another gear. He's playing with consistency. That's something he had to do and he knew that. He's put in the work and he's performing better."