Pressure's on top picks

Jamal Reynolds has to gain weight and strength. Robert Ferguson has to learn the offense better. That's the modus operandi for the Packers' top two draft picks this off-season.<p>

The Packers received little production from the two this year. Both were slowed by injuries in training camp, then never challenged players ahead of them for a chance to play on a regular basis. Neither Reynolds nor Ferguson suited up for a game until Dec. 3, a Monday night game at Jacksonville.

As it turned out, it was Ferguson's only game this season, because he injured his hamstring the following week in practice. Reynolds played in the remaining six regular season games and both playoff games, finishing with two sacks and four tackles.

Coach/general manager Mike Sherman said Thursday that he wants Reynolds to gain about 10 to 12 pounds and report to training camp at 263 in July. He also feels Reynolds, taken 10th overall in the NFL draft last April, has to be stronger if he is going to be used as more than just a pass-rushing specialist.

"I don't think we can afford the luxury of him just coming off the bench and being a pass-rush specialist as a first-round draft pick unless he's just an unblockable guy," Sherman said. "I do think he's instinctive. I do think he reacts well to the run. He's a good chase guy. He has to get bigger. He has to get stronger. He left here probably about 251 (pounds). He needs to come back here at 262, 263 (pounds) and hopefully grow into that position as a run defender as well as a pass rusher."

Sherman said Ferguson only learned one receiver position, but he had trouble getting that down so it was difficult to insert him in other positions. Ferguson was taken in the second round by the Packers (41st overall) in the draft.

"In hindsight, it's easy to look at myself and criticize myself for that, but at the same time, he didn't know 'X' so how is he gonna know 'E,' how's he gonna know 'Zebra,' how's he gonna know this?" Sherman said. "It's very easy for me to say that now, but it's something I definitely want to look at and make sure that that player that you bring in here has an expanded role on the offense, so he can get on the field a little bit faster."

The Packers did get production out of their two third-round picks – defensive back Bhawoh Jue and linebacker Torrance Marshall. Jue filled in at safety for the injured LeRoy Butler and started the final seven games of the regular season. He finished with 39 tackles and two interceptions, along with four passes defensed. Marshall was inserted as a last-minute starter against Tennessee as a weak side linebacker. He is projected to succeed Bernardo Harris as Green Bay's starting middle linebacker within the next two seasons.

Fourth-round pick Bill Ferrario, a guard from the University of Wisconsin, did not suit up for a game this season.

Sixth-round pick David Martin, a tight end from the University of Tennessee who was converted from wide receiver, saw significant action early in the season in place of the injured Tyrone Davis. Martin was overcome by nagging injuries late in the season and lost out on playing time to Davis. But the Packers were very pleased with Martin and his potential as a tight end.


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