Murphy's injury leaves team in limbo

A season that began with so much promise for rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy has reached a point of serious uncertainty. Murphy, who sustained a season-ending neck injury during a game in early October, has yet to get back to full health, and it is possible that he may never play football again.

Murphy injured his neck while returning a kickoff against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 3. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and placed on injured reserve the next day. Though it has been more than two months since his injury, Packers coach Mike Sherman recently explained that Murphy is in the process of seeing at least four specialists around the country to determine if he would be risking further damage to his neck and spine area.

Murphy has remained in Green Bay and has begun lifting weights and preparing for next season, but soreness and pain from the helmet-to-helmet hit still lingers. Time will hopefully cure the pain, but it is possible that the specialists will advise Murphy, the second of Green Bay's two second-round draft picks this year, to retire because of the nature of his injury.

"When you're on the field, there are certain liabilities that you are subject to, particularly the receivers," Sherman said. "We want to make sure the decision he makes from our standpoint, and his standpoint, along with his mom and dad, is a fair one to him from a health standpoint."

Green Bay's wide receiver position has been hit hard by injuries this season. The Packers lost wide receiver Javon Walker in Week 1 to a torn ACL in his knee. Murphy went down less than a month later, and Robert Ferguson sprained his knee a few weeks after Murphy's injury. While Walker and Murphy will make every attempt to get back to 100 percent and be ready to play by the start of the 2006 season, there is no guarantee that both will be ready to go, or the same as they were before they were injured.

Nevertheless, the Packers, this off-season, will have to make either signing a free agent receiver, or drafting a receiver, one of their top priorities. Ferguson, when healthy, hasn't lived up to expectations that he and the team set for him at the onset of this season. Antonio Chatman has been adequate, but will never be a starter on a regular basis. Other free agents like Andrae Thurman, Jamal Jones and Taco Wallace have gotten an opportunity to succeed in Green Bay's offense, but have come up short.

Donald Driver is the only starting receiver who will be back next season at full strength, barring a serious injury in the final three games. Walker is a workout warrior and it is likely that he will regain the form that made him a Pro Bowl receiver in 2004, but he also will be a contract year next year. Unless the Packers can re-sign him before or during the season, he could run a fly pattern toward another team after the 2006 season.

The Packers should make every effort to stock up on receivers through free agency and the draft. With uncertainty surrounding Murphy, the Packers must reinforce this position as much as possible.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail your thoughts and comments to him at

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