Ferguson's flexibility a key

Wide receiver's ability to adapt to other positions may save him in Green Bay

Robert Ferguson will enter the Green Bay Packers training camp in late July perched firmly on the bubble. The odds are against Ferguson making the Packers roster this season due to the draft and emergence of other wide receivers, but he couldn't be more confident that he'll be around for a seventh season in Green Bay.

The oft-injured and underachieving Ferguson currently finds himself battling draft picks James Jones and David Clowney, and up-and-coming receivers Ruvell Martin, Carlyle Holiday and Shaun Bodiford for one of three positions behind starters Donald Driver and Greg Jennings in Green Bay's receiving corp.

To help his chances of landing a roster spot, Ferguson is learning all three wide receiver positions rather than focusing on the slot position, or ‘X' receiver. That spot has been filled by Jones, the team's third round pick in the recent NFL draft.

Though he has been limited by a foot injury this off-season, Ferguson is as upbeat as ever, and welcomes comments from many who feel his chances of sticking with Green Bay this year are as good as John Jones's chances of returning as team president and CEO.

"I love it. I love it," said Ferguson, who began participating in Green Bay's Organized Team Activities practices last week. "Man, what's success without adversity. I welcome it. I welcome it."

"You can't let it break you down. You have to use it as motivation. I love to hear people say that ‘Brett doesn't have this, or he doesn't have that.' Or ‘We look forward to seeing Greg or James or the young guys,'" he said.

Ferguson certainly has had his share of adversity in his career. Selected by the Packers in the second round (41st overall) of the 2001 NFL draft, he has played in just 60 of 96 games, missing many because of injuries. Ferguson played in four games in 2006 before he sustained a sprained arch in his foot Oct. 2 at Philadelphia. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 28.

Ferguson had a total of five catches for 31 yards and one touchdown last season, and it seemed like Brett Favre lost confidence in him.

Besides other receivers competing for one of five positions, Ferguson's sizeable salary is an issue. With two seasons left on his contract, including a salary of $1.8 million in 2007, he may be released for that reason alone.

But Ferguson doesn't seem bothered by the competition nor his salary. To his credit, he is taking it as a challenge and has had his head in the playbook this off-season learning all three of the receiver positions.

"I've grown fond of learning all the positions. … I enjoy it," Ferguson said. "There are a lot more plays to be made once you're moving around like that."

Knowing all three receiver positions could be Ferguson's saving grace in Green Bay, plus his ability to play special teams. If others in front of him on the depth chart are injured in training camp, Ferguson could capitalize. His experience and attitude are his assets, but he will have to play injury-free in training camp to increase his chances of making the roster. He also said that he realizes that he will have to prove himself all over again to coaches, but that's nothing new.

"80 (Donald Driver) has to show himself. 4 (Brett Favre) has to show himself," Ferguson said. "This is a replacement business. If you get complacent, then you'll be walking out that door. I've always been hungry and understood that. I understand that. Maybe someone else doesn't. If you feel like you don't have to show yourself, then you're not going to be around long. I haven't been here seven years for nothing. I know how to go out there and show them what I can do."

That's all Packers fans can expect from Ferguson. He might be more of an asset at a different position, though, his time in Green Bay appears to be quickly running out.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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