Zach Tom’s ‘big goals’ for 2024 on hold due to pec injury

By: Paul Bretl 5/22/24

Zach Tom has big goals entering his third NFL season, but that will have to be put on hold as he deals with a pec injury that will keep him sidelined for the time being.

Tuesday’s OTA practice was the first open to the media. As the team went through warmups, Tom was off to the side without his helmet, riding the stationary bike. We would learn afterward that he suffered a torn pec in mid-April while lifting.

“It’s good,” said Tom of his injury. “I had surgery about a month ago. I was in the sling for a little bit. Now, we’re working our way back into it, doing some exercises. They said it was about an eight- to 12-week recovery from the date of surgery, so, hopefully, I should be back at least by mid-August.”

Depending on Tom’s recovery timeline, if he is on the shorter end of things, he could be ready to go by the start of training camp, as he mentions. However, if he is on the longer end of that 8-12-week timeframe, it could be mid or late August before he’s back on the practice field. 

Tom is taking things “day-by-day,” adding that pec injuries are not something you want to rush back from. Along with rehab, he’s focused on making sure he stays in shape so he can hit the ground running when is able to return to the field.

“Well, obviously, I can’t use the injured arm so I can work out the other one,” said Tom. “They’ve got some things in there that helps me be able to work this out without using a bunch of weight. So, I’ve been doing all of that. Just rolling with the punches, trying to get back as soon as I can but also being careful because, obviously, you don’t want to make it worse.”

Last season was Tom’s first full year as a starter. According to PFF, he would surrender just two sacks along with 37 pressures. Out of 50 eligible tackles, Tom ranked 13th in pass-blocking efficiency. 

Making Tom’s performance even more impressive was the competition he went up against. Of the NFL’s top 10 edge rushers in terms of total pressures, Tom faced six of them, including Nick Bosa, Aidan Hutchinson, Micah Parsons, and Maxx Crosby, all of whom finished in the top-four of that pressure category.

Despite Tom’s high level of play last season, he’s only focused on improving in 2024:

“However many sacks I gave up is too many,” Tom said. “This was really my first year starting and I was able to go up against some of those premier guys. Learned a lot. Now, this year, come back even better. I’ve got big goals in mind for this year.”

When Tom is back on the practice field, we will likely see him at right tackle, but his versatility gives the Packers options in where they line him up as they search for their best five offensive linemen.

If the Packers feel comfortable with Rashee Walker or Jordan Morgan playing on the right side, that could give them the flexibility to to have Tom compete at center with Josh Myers, where Green Bay reportedly things very highly of Tom and his abilities. 

On the flip side, there is also something to be said for letting a young player stick to one position where he can continue to develop, especially with right tackle being one of the more important positions in football.

“He did a great job,” said LaFleur of Tom’s play last season. “But I think it’s still, he provides so much flexibility ’cause he’s been able to, I mean he’s played multiple positions and so, that really affords you the best opportunity to get the best five out there, wherever it may fall. 

“So, we know what he can do obviously at right tackle. We’ve got a large sample size and we feel really good about that. And again, it’ll sort itself out eventually down the road.”

For the time being, without Tom on the practice field, the Packers have the ability to get other tackles starting reps on the right side. During Tuesday’s practice, we saw Andre Dillard and Jordan Morgan lined up at right tackle with the starters. With the second-team offense, it was Luke Tenuta.

Tom’s focus right now is on getting fully healthy and back on the practice field. But once he checks that box, his sights will be set on knocking out some big goals this season.

“Obviously, one goal is to not give up any sacks,” Tom said. “The All-Pro and Pro Bowl and all that, a lot of that is a popularity contest. I’m not really into that so, those would be nice, but I hold myself to a high standard already, so I don’t really care about those awards. I do, but I don’t really think those are the be-all, end-all of whether you played well or not. I hold myself to a high standard. I’ve just got to go out there and do it.”