Top Pick Sherrod Making Progress

OT Derek Sherrod (Michael Hickey/USP)

With Bryan Bulaga likely out, Derek Sherrod will be active for Sunday's game against Denver. Plus, an award for Aaron Rodgers, an update on Mike Neal, the latest injury reports and more from a busy Thursday.

With right tackle Bryan Bulaga likely to be held out of Sunday's game at Denver, second-year player Marshall Newhouse will make his first NFL start and rookie first-round pick Derek Sherrod figures to be on the Green Bay Packers' active roster for the first time in his brief career.

Sherrod went from being in contention to start at left guard to being in street clothes on gamedays. Newhouse, with a full year in the system and playing only tackle during training camp, clearly outplayed Sherrod, who bounced between tackle and guard at camp.

Still, the Packers remain high on the former All-American from Mississippi State. As the only other tackle on the roster, Sherrod would be thrown into the fray against the Broncos should something happen to Newhouse or left tackle Chad Clifton.

Ready or not.

"We're all going to find out," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said on Thursday. "I feel good about his development, I really do. When you look at the big scope of things, if you look at that position and the fact that we did our famous shuffling act early that we're always so good at, I think he's settled in and is making some good progress. Exactly how far he is, who knows? We'll find out if that's the case if he's up and plays."

On Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy called questioning of Sherrod's progress "convenient criticism" and said he was excited about both Sherrod and Newhouse. According to Philbin, Sherrod has improved, even without the benefit of game action.

"You look at the line, today during special teams, they might have had a half-hour where they could just work on little things in their footwork and their timing and their punch," Philbin said. "I think there's room for quite a bit, especially with a young guy like that."

Rodgers named player of month

Aaron Rodgers was named the NFC's offensive player of the month after leading the Packers to a 3-0 record while pacing the NFL in quarterback rating, completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Against the Saints, Panthers and Bears, Rodgers completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 917 yards with eight touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 120.9. His rating was at least 100 in all three games.

Rodgers was named player of the month in October 2009 and December 2010.

Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, who anchors the NFL's top-ranked defense, and Detroit kicker Jason Hanson, who is 8-for-8 on field goals, won the awards for defense and special teams.

Packers injury updates

Defensive end Mike Neal said he's hoping to return before the Oct. 30.

Neal twisted his knee at practice on Aug. 16 and was hoping to be back in time for the season-opening game. Instead, he wound up having surgery on Sept. 13.

"The bad thing is, I took three MRIs that showed absolutely nothing, no damage to my knee whatsoever," Neal said. "It was awkward because of the situation. But they were able to tell my kneecap was swelling up, and then it would go down, and then it would swell up and go down again. (Dr. Pat McKenzie) said there has to be something else in there that was bothering you. So, he went in there and found two huge cartilage chunks that they had to take out that chipped off in the area of my knee. The good thing is that area doesn't cause me any pain. But those chunks in there were making my knee lock up, and that was causing the swelling. So, he went in and removed those and for now, we're just waiting for the fluid in there to drain. And when that drains, I should be fine."

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Frank Zombo was due to have an X-ray on his broken scapula on Thursday afternoon.

"I feel 100 percent, I feel great, and so basically once they take a look at that, they'll determine when I can get back," Zombo said.

Packers injury report

Out — S Nick Collins (neck); DE Mike Neal (knee); OLB Frank Zombo (shoulder). Did not participate — RT Bryan Bulaga (knee); RB Ryan Grant (kidney); OLB Brad Jones (hamstring); CB Charles Woodson (foot/knee). Limited participation — TE Jermichael Finley (ankle); OLB Jamari Lattimore (shoulder); CB Pat Lee (back); OLB Clay Matthews (quad); CB Tramon Williams (shoulder). Full participation — T Chad Clifton (knee); DE Ryan Pickett (foot); LB Vic So'oto (back).

Lattimore was added, giving the Packers 15 players on the list. Clifton, as usual, went from limited to full. Matthews and Lee were elevated after not practicing on Wednesday.

Broncos injury report

Did not participate — WR Eddie Royal (groin); WR Demaryius Thomas (finger); TE Julius Thomas (ankle). Limited participation — CB Champ Bailey (hamstring); DE Elvis Dumervil (shoulder); DT Marcus Thomas (groin). Full participation — RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring); LB D.J. Williams (elbow).

Four-point stance

— It's Alumni Weekend, so the Packers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1961 championship. Halftime will feature introductions of 18 players from that team: Dan Currie, Ben Davidson, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Lee Folkins, Forrest Gregg, Dale Hackbart, Paul Hornung, Gary Knafelc, Jerry Kramer, Tom Moore, John Roach, Bob Skoronski, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Fuzzy Thurston, Nelson Toburen and Jesse Whittenton. Susan Lombardi, daughter of Vince Lombardi, also will be introduced.

— Grant was a nobody until blowing through the Denver defense for 104 yards on Oct. 29, 2007. Could Philbin have imagined what Grant would go onto accomplish during his career? "You know, he did a good job in practice. He came (early) in the season and he hadn't got a whole lot of action. To answer your question, probably not, because I don't know if you're ever really sure until you see a guy go out there and do it.

— With Zombo still out, Jones likely to be held out of the game and with Lattimore added to the list, rookie Vic So'oto likely will be on the gameday roster for the first time.

— This might be the biggest weekend in Wisconsin sports history. The Badgers are hosting Nebraska in a top-10 showdown on Saturday night, the Brewers are hosting playoff games on Saturday and Sunday and the Packers are hosting the Broncos. "The conversation this morning at breakfast amongst the coaches and even some of the players once we came downstairs was about the Brewers and the playoffs getting started and the games last night, how it turned out with Tampa Bay and St. Louis," McCarthy said. "I would say we're very much in tune with the Brewers and we wish the Brewers the best and we'll all be watching and rooting for them."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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