Receivers flex their muscles

Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson are noticeably bigger, stronger and faster than they were at this time last year. More importantly, their confidence that took a hit while trying to grasp the Packers' offense last season, is greater than ever before.<p>

"Once you know what you're doing you just ooze with more confidence and I think it's showing," said Ferguson, who is entering his third season. "I've got a little swagger like I had when I was in college. I feel like I'm the man right now."

Ferguson and Walker will be competing against each other for a starting spot opposite Donald Driver this season. No matter who wins the starting job, the other will be playing often. The Packers frequently use three- and four-wide receiver sets during games and both have been preparing for more playing time this year accordingly.

Ferguson had difficulty learning the offense as a rookie in 2001 and only suited up for one game. Last year he played in every game and developed into Green Bay's No. 3 receiver. Meanwhile, Walker, the Packers' No. 1 draft choice in 2002, played in 15 regular season games, and Green Bay's playoff game, and was inactive once.

By the end of the season, both receivers were healthy but worn from a season that is almost twice as long as a college season. Ferguson said he weighed less than 200 pounds after beginning the season around 210. Walker was down to 205 pounds after weighing in at 218 at the start of training camp last year.

Both receivers have persistently lifted weights and worked on their endurance this off-season, and both displayed more bulk along with added quickness and speed during the recent post draft minicamp. Ferguson said he is around 212 pounds and would like to add another five pounds of muscle. Walker is at 218 and would like to enter training camp at 220. Plus, their confidence is as strong as ever.

"They'll probably see a bigger, a stronger and a more aggressive person, knocking people out instead of people knocking me out," Walker said.

Both Ferguson and Walker had similar numbers last year. Walker had 23 catches for 319 yards and one touchdown during the regular season last year. He caught five passes for 104 yards in Green Bay's playoff loss to Atlanta. Ferguson caught 22 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, and caught three passes for 17 yards in the playoff game against the Falcons.

Now they are both in position to be utilized more in Green Bay's offense, which will likely mean more receptions.

"I saw added quickness in speed from Robert Ferguson," said Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman. "I thought that was very evident from the first time he took off at the line of scrimmage against pretty good corners. Al Harris is a heckuva a cover corner. They went against each other all the time. I thought Robert got some good work with Al. That was a battle for both of them.

"Javon Walker is bigger and stronger. He hasn't used his body and strength all the time like I would like to see him do, but he used it a few times, which was very impressive. When he uses his body strength and size, he is pretty tough to defend."

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