Ford driven to bounce back

Carl Ford is back practicing with the Green Bay Packers and is as anxious as ever to return to the football field.<p>

"Right now I'm 115 percent," Ford said. "I feel a lot better than I did last year. I still got to get back out on the field and really test (the knee) against competition, catch some balls, run some routes. Other than that, as far as running and cutting and playing, I feel better than I did last year."

Ford tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during Green Bay's final preseason game Aug. 28 against the Tennessee Titans. At the time, the team's medical staff felt it would take Ford about 12 weeks for him to make a full recovery. The Packers promptly placed Ford on season-ending injured reserve and signed veteran Antonio Freeman to fill in.

Ford has remained in Green Bay to participate in the team's off-season workout program and said that he has gained about 8 to 10 pounds of muscle. He currently weighs 185 pounds and feels he has not lost any of the quickness or burst that he displayed in training camp last season. He has been taking part in the team's post-draft minicamp.

Ford caught six passes for 63 yards last preseason and returned a kickoff for 19 yards. In the Packers' final preseason game, he got caught underneath a pile of tacklers at the end of a screen play and his season quickly came to an end. Up until that point, Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman often compared Ford to a younger Donald Driver. "Donald was a little bit rusty on his route running (during his rookie season), but this kid really knows how to run routes," Sherman said of Ford last August. "I think he has a chance to be a rising star." The Packers are not expected to re-sign Freeman, which presently puts Ford fourth on the receiver chart behind Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker. "I can't wait to get out there and really test it (in training camp) because I feel better than I did last year," Ford said.

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