Ferguson Eases His Way Into Lineup

Robert Ferguson instantly became the Vikings' most experienced receiver when he signed with the team last week. He played Saturday night and had two passes thrown his way.

The Vikings are hoping Robert Ferguson can bring some veteran experience to an experienced receiving corps. Ferguson will simply be happy if he gets playing time.

Minnesota signed the veteran receiver four days after he was waived by the arch-rival Green Bay Packers in part because the team could guarantee Ferguson the best opportunity of getting on the field.

Here's why. Upon signing a one-year, $700,000 contract that could be worth close to $1.3 million if he reaches incentives, Ferguson became the most experienced receiver on the Vikings' roster in terms of NFL seasons, games played, games started, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Ferguson's 12 touchdown catches are three more than the combined total of the 11 other receivers.

All of this figured to make Ferguson the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver on the Vikings' depth chart, behind Bobby Wade and possibly Troy Williamson. He almost certainly will move ahead of second-round pick Sidney Rice. Ferguson caught one pass for 11 yards in the Vikings' preseason game last Saturday in Seattle.

In Green Bay, Ferguson had fallen behind at least five receivers.

The opportunity that existed in Minnesota caused Ferguson to bypass an offer from the Houston Texans.

That was an attractive situation because Ferguson lives in the city and the Texans' offensive coordinator is Mike Sherman, who played an instrumental role in making Ferguson a second-round draft pick in 2001 when Sherman was coaching in Green Bay.

"Obviously, once I found out I was released, (Houston) was the No. 1 team that came to mind," Ferguson said. "But things changed dramatically once I visited here and got to talk with the coaches and the team. There were a lot of people surprised that I decided to come to Minnesota, but I really feel like this is the perfect decision for me, perfect fit for me, and I feel like I benefit from it."

One reason Ferguson decided against joining the Texans was because his immediate playing time wouldn't have been guaranteed. Coach Gary Kubiak reportedly told Ferguson that he would be evaluated on the scout team in practice.

The Vikings' message was simple: You'll play on Sundays.

That is assuming Ferguson can remain healthy. He has missed 36 of a possible 96 regular-season games in his career and last season sat out 12 games because of a foot sprain. He did not miss a scheduled practice during training camp with Green Bay but the team did not let him practice twice a day, per its policy on players coming back from injury.

Asked about his foot, Ferguson said: "It's not 100 percent, it's actually 110 percent. It's not an issue at all, and I look forward to testing it."


  • DE Erasmus James, who hadn't played since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the second game of last season, returned for Saturday's game against Seattle. The coaching staff wanted to get James 10 to 15 snaps.

  • DT Fred Evans rejoined the Vikings last Thursday after taking a week to resolve league issues in Florida and Texas.

  • S Mike Doss missed the Seattle game because of a calf injury. Doss is one of three veteran safeties who have been battling in training camp. Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith are the starters; Doss and Tank Williams have been working with the second team. Second-year player Greg Blue also is in the mix.

  • LB Vinny Ciurciu, a special teams ace, broke a finger on his left hand during practice last week and was unable to play against the Seahawks.

  • CB Mike Hawkins sat out last Saturday's game because of a rib injury.

  • TE Richard Owens (knee/ankle) missed the Seattle game.

  • The Vikings considered bringing in veteran DT Corey Simon for a visit but decided against it. Simon was released by the Indianapolis Colts in early August.

  • WR Bobby Wade caught five passes for 85 yards in the Vikings' preseason loss to Seattle but suffered a sprained ankle in the third quarter.

  • WR Aundrae Allison, who appears to be the leading candidate to return kicks for the Vikings, left the Seattle game because of back spasms.

  • LB Cameron Siskowic suffered a head or neck injury against Seattle and was taken from the field in an ambulance. Tests on Siskowic's neck and head were negative, and he had control of his extremities, but he was held overnight at a Seattle area hospital as a precaution.

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