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Commentary

Former Packers linebacker Brian Noble was talking on a Green Bay radio station about the team's wide receivers. It was a few days after training camp opened and Noble made a pretty good point: "Remember this," Noble told his Green Bay audience. "All five of the receivers have something to prove."<p>

Or as Terry Glenn would say: "The pressure's on."

Those five receivers who are expected to make the team include Glenn, Robert Ferguson, Javon Walker, Donald Driver and Charles Lee. That's the penciled order when training camp began, but is subject to change.

Expect high-level performances this year out of this group. It will be much improved over last year. That is very evident after watching these guys draw the applause and cheers of a couple thousand railbirds at each practice who have watched them make some fantastic catches. Before you get too excited, some of those catches have come against "air," or no defenders, or against defenders who probably will be cut from the team at the end of this month. But many of the grabs have been made during team scrimmages, which is very encouraging.

There seems to be a renewed sense of urgency within this group. Their attitudes are impeccable. Their determination second to none. Waving good-bye to Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder was a good move by head coach and general manager Mike Sherman. Allowing Corey Bradford to slip away to Houston stings a little, but in a few years, many Packers fans will barely be able to remember Bradford's name because of the talent and potential the current group of receivers possess.

They've all got something to prove. It is almost like they are all in a contract season, which is the case only for Driver. But they all have plenty to lose in the future if they are unable to prove that they belong in the NFL this year, on the field and off the field.

But through two weeks of training camp, at least three of the Packers' top receivers have missed practice time because of injuries. Glenn's latest knee injury will likely keep him out of Saturday's preseason game against Philadelphia. Ferguson has been bothered by a groin injury, though, he probably will play against the Eagles. Lee also has missed practice time because of a hamstring injury.

This all begs the question: Are the Packers' receivers tough enough to make it through a 16-game regular season schedule, plus the postseason? If the Packers wideouts can stay healthy, they'll be in better position than last year at this time. If not, that position again will be a drag on the team.

Exactly who will play the most at wide receiver this season is up in the air at this point. But whoever it is, Packers fans will see players running routes at full speed and catching more passes and touchdowns from Favre this year than last year, if they are able to practice. If they can continue to perform in games like they have in practice, the Packers will have that many more weapons on offense for a super season.


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