A slow start is better than no start. Labeled a second-round bust after failing to catch a single pass during an injury-hampered rookie season, Robert Ferguson has reinvented himself as a consistent receiver. Now he has drawn the highest praise that the Packers have to offer – quarterback Brett Favre made Ferguson his go-to guy in Sunday's 20-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
Ferguson led Green Bay receiving with four catches for 46 yards. Modest numbers, perhaps, but they are magnified by the context of the game. Three of Ferguson's four catches went for first downs, and two of those were during the Packers' 98-plus-yard go-ahead drive.
The third-year receiver's longest gain accounted for half his yardage – and an intangible portion of the Packers' ability to finish this one. On third-and-nine from the 3-yard-line, Favre was throwing out of the shotgun, a precarious step away from a safety. Favre rifled the ball to Ferguson in stride over the middle. The catch transformed the drive from disaster to decisive.
Ferguson has 20 catches for 228 yards and a touchdown this season and has climbed the GB receivers' list to rank fourth just a shade behind Ahman Green, Donald Driver and Javon Walker. The 41st overall pick of the 2001 draft, Ferguson started just one game last season, then earned a starting job this year. Now he's on pace to match his 2002 totals – 22 catches for 293 yards and 3 TDs in the next week or two.
Not bad for a guy who didn't make his first NFL catch until the second game of his second season.
The 23-year-old Ferguson would like to add to his numbers by reviving his kick return duties. He had two returns for 37 yards Sunday, although he was shown up a bit by Najeh Davenport's single 56-yard runback.
"It might add to my game because I'll be touching the ball more," Ferguson said.