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Ford Looks To Seize The Moment


As tired as the expression may be, in the NFL, one man's loss often really is another man's gain.

So while Carl Ford was saddened to hear that fellow wide receiver Devin Lewis had to be placed on injured reserve Saturday due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, he wasn't naïve to the circumstances.

"Now it kind of opens it up for me even more," the seventh-round pick said Sunday. "I just have to take advantage of what's in front of me."

What's in front of Ford is a potential spot on the Green Bay Packers' 2003 roster. Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker secure the Packers' top three receiver positions, with Karsten Bailey currently holding down the No. 4 role.

Presumably, that leaves vacant at least one receiver spot, with Ford and five others, including fellow seventh-round draft pick DeAndrew Rubin, vying to fill it.

While the true test for all the contenders will come in the form of five preseason games, Ford is off to a solid start heading into the second week of training camp.

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman has compared him to a young Driver, and the similarities between the two are apparent.

Both were drafted in the seventh round out of small college programs -- Ford's Toledo to Driver's Alcorn State. Both are 6-feet tall with slender frames -- Ford weighing in at 179 pounds, Driver at 188. Both possess blazing speed. Both are tremendously amiable.

Of course, while Driver is coming off a Pro Bowl season that made him the toast of the town, Ford is just trying to make a name for himself.

Before the start of training camp, while sitting with Rubin at the Packers' media luncheon for rookies and newcomers, both seventh-rounders were almost entirely ignored by the press. Unless, that is, you count a few misguided questions.

"A guy came up to me and asked if I was part of the equipment team," Ford said. "I had to show him my nametag."

At least Ford's teammates have been considerably more welcoming.

Upon meeting the receiver to whom he has been compared, Ford was instantly made to feel at home inside the locker room when Driver assured him that the Packers "get the gems in the seventh round."

By that logic, the largest obstacle between Ford and an NFL job is Rubin.

Drafted only three picks apart, Ford and Rubin have every reason to see one another as bitter rivals, but, perhaps remarkably, both insist they have become fast friends.

"All the rookies are really close," Ford said. "I didn't necessarily think we were all going to be friends, but once you actually get here and see everybody every day, it's different.

"I've only known these guys for a couple months and already they feel like brothers, like I've known them for a long time."

Said Rubin, "We might be going for the same spot on the team, but we all hang out together. When it comes down to it, we can only control what we do as individuals. Everything else will take care of itself."

The sudden and unfortunate departure of Lewis is a boldface reminder of just how fast the window of opportunity can close in the NFL.

In case his time in Green Bay is short, Ford is determined to make the most of it.

"It's a dream just to even be here," he said. "You've got to imagine how many people grow up wanting to be professional football players.

"I'm honored and privileged just to have the chance to make the team. And when it's all said and done, I'll always be able to look back on this and say I was part of something special."

How much a part, will be decided over the next few weeks.

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