Ford: Stock is rising

Carl Ford is currently giving the Green Bay Packers a better idea on whom to keep at wide receiver this season. After a shaky June minicamp, the rookie seventh round pick is taking advantage of injuries to other receivers and climbing the depth chart with an impressive performance thus far in training camp.<p>

The top four wide receiver positions are pretty much locked up for the Packers. Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson are the starters. Javon Walker, last year's No. 1 pick, is the team's No. 3 receiver followed closely by Karsten Bailey, who also is having a strong camp. The fifth and final spot among the receivers is up for grabs between Ford, free agent Antonio Chatman and DeAndrew Rubin, the second of Green Bay's four seventh round picks in the recent NFL draft, one spot ahead of Ford.

Thus far, Ford appears to have an edge on his competitors. Though Chatman has more experience as a punt returner than Ford, he is more polished as a receiver and catches the ball better. Rubin has been slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out of most of the June minicamp and a number of practices in training camp.

With five preseason games ahead, Ford can help himself tremendously with a strong special teams performance in each game.

"Not just for me but for all the other rookies on the bubble trying to make this team, we definitely got to go out and prove ourselves," said Ford. "We all are going to get an opportunity to do that. When your number is called, you got to make a play."

Ford was a quarterback and running back in high school but was converted to wide receiver at the University of Toledo. He caught 79 passes for 1,062 yards, an average of 13 yards per catch, and nine touchdowns last season. He finished fourth in receptions and third in yards in school history.

Now, he playing each down as if it were his last in practice, giving "110 (percent) effort. Do everything hard. When I catch the ball, get up the field and run as fast as I can. Hopefully they notice that."

Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman noticed Ford dropping the ball during the June minicamp. In the meantime, Ford said he studied the offense more, and adjusted his attitude and focus. As a result, he has become a better receiver.

"He catches the ball and runs great routes," said Sherman. "In the June minicamp, he always ran great routes. He started off catching the ball but had a lot of drops there in the middle and finished strong at the end. He's really caught the ball and has been secure with the football. The fact that he possibly can return punts certainly helps his value."

That's a big question with Ford, unproven as a returner. He returned just five kickoffs and no punts at Toledo last season.

"I'm starting to feel more comfortable back there," Ford said. "It started off kind of tough. I never really returned punts in college. Right now I'm trying to find a rhythm to catching punts right now. I think with a little more practice and catching more punts it will come natural."

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