Draft Picks Will Need Time

The Green Bay Packers will get contributions from each of their six draft picks this season, but don't expect to see any of the rookies in the starting lineup at any point in 2001.

With the exception of first-round pick Jamal Reynolds, all have been as advertised and a few could work their way into the starting lineup next year. It hasn't helped that three of the draft picks, including Reynolds, have missed extended stretches of practice because of injuries or ailments.

Here's a look at the progress of each draft pick at the midway point of training camp:

Reynolds: He has yet to push for a starting job like many thought he would when the Packers traded up seven spots and took him with the 10th overall pick in the draft. In fact, Reynolds has slipped behind second-year pro Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the depth chart at "elephant" end.

Reynolds has displayed all the quickness and speed that he showed at Florida State, but he is lacking the strength and hand movement to get past 300-plus pound tackles thus far in the NFL.

"We're just making him more aware of what his body can and cannot do," said defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. "Knowing what his body is doing. Knowing what the right foot is doing. Knowing what the right hand is doing instead of just going out there and kind of doing things without knowing what he is doing."

Reynolds bruised his knee on Aug. 17 and was forced to sit out of the Packers' second exhibition game against Denver.

He has gotten beat more often than not in one-on-one pass-rushing drills against tackles Chad Clifton, Earl Dotson and Barry Stokes.

"He has the speed and quickness to get on people, but now it goes on to another level because these guys are masters," said defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. "Hand placement is one area, attack points, and counters and those kind of things. It's just more detail. To get the advantage and win at this level, you've got to be right. The standard is raised."

Reynolds lost about 10 pounds off his 266-pound frame early in training camp, but is working on putting the weight back on. He also has stayed after practice a number of times to work on technique with Franklin and other linemen.

"I knew I was going to have to learn a lot of things, but sometimes learning takes time," said Reynolds. "I think I've learned a lot in the past few weeks. I think I'm getting better every day."

Robert Ferguson: Taken in the second round, Ferguson played for just one season at Texas A&M and entered the draft after his junior season. He has good hands, an excellent burst, and has shown an ability to separate from defensive backs, but he hasn't done enough to move up any higher than fifth on the depth chart at wide receiver.

"We need him to get as many practice reps as he can in order for him to make the jump that he needs to make from being a rookie to being a factor in our season," said Packers coach/general manager Mike Sherman.

Learning the team's complex West Coast offense is Ferguson's biggest challenge.

"Athletically he's done some things well," said Mark Hatley, Green Bay's vice president of football operations. "But he came from junior college and just played one year, or six months down at Texas A&M, then he's on to the NFL. That's a pretty big step for a young guy. I don't think he'll do anything but get better. How fast? We won't know until he plays."

Bhawoh Jue: The cornerback missed more than two weeks of practices after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the team's intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 4. He also injured his left ankle in the mishap.

Jue returned to practice on Aug. 22. He is still expected to be one of the team's top backups at cornerback, and probably will get on the field this year in passing defenses as the fifth or sixth defensive back.

"He was really pushing," said Hatley. "I don't know how much the injury set him back, but he was very impressive.

"He fits Ron's (Wolf) philosophy over the years – big corners with size that are athletes. That's what the kid is. He's going to contribute. I think he'll help us on the coverage part of it and on special teams."

Torrance Marshall: Many draft experts said that Marshall was the steal of the third round. So far, he has lived up to it. Marshall is currently backing up veteran Bernardo Harris at middle linebacker, and is expected to play in the team's nickel pass defense where two linebackers are used.

"Real athletic and just learning to play. All the reads and different things got him swimming a little bit," Hatley said. "Athletically, sometime or another, whether it's this week, next week or three weeks down the road, it's all going to click for him, and when it does ... athletic-wise he's got some special traits about him. He's just got to learn to play. There's a lot of things going on."

Marshall has missed some practices with minor bumps and bruises. Overall he has shown that he could challenge Harris for the starting job in 2002.

Bill Ferrario: Some thought he would challenge for the starting spot at left guard, but the fourth round pick, instead, will have to settle as the backup to starter Mike Wahle and right guard Marco Rivera.

Ferrario earned the tag as a durable, hard-nosed player while at the University of Wisconsin, and he has continued that style at the NFL level.

"He's a gamer. He's gotten better every week," Hatley said. "He's an old throwback. He sort of wins ugly all the time. He's a good kid. He's like that right tackle (Mark Tauscher). They're both from Wisconsin and play pretty good."

David Martin: The former wide receiver is entrenched as the No. 2 tight end to Bubba Franks. He has been a pleasant surprise because many doubted that he would be able to make the transition without a year on the practice squad. But Martin's blocking skills are good enough that the Packers feel he can contribute this year.

"He amazes me how adaptable he is," said Sherman. "For a young man who played wide receiver last year, it amazes me how quickly he's adapted to the position of tight end. He's done a fine job."

Martin suffered a viral infection and missed about a week of practice, including the team's exhibition opener at Cleveland. He had a tightness in his chest that made it difficult for him to breathe. He overcame the ailment and returned to practice a few days prior to the Packers' second exhibition against Denver.

"Moving from wideout to tight end, I didn't think he would be as far along with his blocking," said Hatley. "Overall, he's picked it up a lot faster than any other wideout that we've tried to move to tight end since I've been in the league. We'll see if he keeps coming."

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