Derek Sherrod begins long road back

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers don't know whether tackle Derek Sherrod will ever be the player they thought he could be when they picked him in the first round of the 2011 draft.

But the discovery process will begin Thursday, when Sherrod is expected to practice in pads without many restrictions for the first time in 22 months. Sherrod hasn't played in a game since he broke both bones in his lower right leg on Dec. 18, 2011, in Kansas City.

Sherrod, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, returned to practice Wednesday for a non-padded workout. That began a three-week window in which he can practice without being added to the roster. At any time during that window, Sherrod can be activated, placed on injured reserve or released.

"He hasn't been in pads since the Kansas City game," McCarthy said. "He needs to get down there. The individual work will be really good for him. How we integrate him into the team work is something we've talked about. We're not going to just roll him out there and have him play 55 snaps in pads. I don't think that's really smart with what he's been through and the path he had to take to get to this point. So we will break him in and push as far as we can. Just be smart."

Sherrod, who was on PUP all of last season, actually practiced for two weeks last year. A couple of those sessions were in pads, but he was extremely limited. At the time, he had a noticeable limp. He appears to be moving better now, but the true test will come over the next couple of weeks.

Last year, the Packers did not even use the full three-week PUP window with Sherrod. They shut him down after two weeks.

"I feel really good," Sherrod said after Wednesday's practice. "Just to be able to do everything out there with my teammates was pretty good. Just going out there and really feeling it out."

Sherrod was the only one of the Packers' four PUP players to begin practicing. This was the first week that players on the list were eligible to start their three-week window. Defensive end Jerel Worthy (knee), safety Sean Richardson (neck) and tackle JC Tretter (ankle) have not been cleared.

Worthy, who sustained a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament in the regular-season finale last season, said he believes he will play this season.

"I've been testing and training and getting ready to play for probably like three or four weeks," Worthy said. "I just want to make sure that when my number is called I'm ready to play."