Don't count on Murphy just yet

History says rookie wide receiver will need time to figure out offense

Anybody know what number Terrence Murphy wears? Honestly, I had to check the roster to find out. The reason: Murphy has never played in a NFL regular season or preseason game, but with the season-ending knee injury to Javon Walker, the rookie wide receiver will now be counted on to help the Packers in their passing game. Green Bay hopes as soon as Sunday against Cleveland.

Murphy is a second-round pick from Texas A&M, and when drafted the Packers hoped he could help to some level this season. However, that was as a fourth receiver, at best. But with Walker's injury, the Packers would prefer Murphy ascends to No. 3 as Antonio Chatman isn't a good No. 3 receiver, plus he is the main punt returner.

I have news for the Packers: Murphy won't become what they hope, not for this season. Nothing against Murphy, but just look at the history of wide receivers being drafted by the Packers, or for that matter picked in the first round of the draft.

Robert Ferguson (also from Texas A&M) and Derrick Mayes were second-round picks by the Packers who as rookies did nothing. Some was because of injury, but the biggest reason is adjusting to the NFL. Outside of quarterback, wide receivers have the most difficult time as rookies.

Walker was a first-round pick and he did nothing his rookie campaign. One moment I remember in Ferguson's rookie season was a preseason game in which he was benched. He slammed his helmet to the ground, frustrated by what was going on. He wasn't ready — in preseason.

Consider this and add in Murphy hasn't even played in a preseason game (because of injury), and expecting him to become a quality No. 3 is about as realistic as asking Ahmad Carroll to not draw a penalty for just one game this season.

Packers coach Mike Sherman was asked about Murphy this week.

"He seems to pick up things fairly quickly," Sherman said. "I'm very confident he knows what to do."

He might know what to do, but when he's lining up on Sunday against a cornerback and Murphy is forced to read a defense, make a move, get open and catch a pass, you think he's got this covered? Hardly. This isn't practice. Murphy (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) is being thrown into a situation he's not ready for because of an injury. The Packers need to walk him into this, not shove him into it. If he struggles, pull him out, let him catch his breath and maybe return him to the field.

There's nothing wrong with getting Murphy some playing time. He is a second-round pick, so there must be some talent there. Also, he set a Texas A&M record with 172 career receptions and 2,600 yards. In order to cover up for Walker, the Packers need, first and foremost, Donald Driver and Ferguson to remain healthy. Then in three- and four-receiver sets use Chatman, Murphy, tight ends Bubba Franks and David Martin and even running backs Ahman Green and Tony Fisher.

Not one player on the Packers' roster can make up for Walker. It has to be a group effort. Quarterback Brett Favre was asked about others picking up the slack and the forever optimistic Favre said, "We believe they can handle it. Now it's just a matter of them stepping up and doing it."

That's easier said than done for Murphy. He may have talent, but missing all the time he has missed and asking him to play a role Sunday is like asking Grady Jackson to skip a meal — it's not going to happen. He might help here and there, but it'll be a while before Murphy realistically has a chance to live up to expectations.

And by the way, Murphy's number is 85.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

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