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Notebook: Ferguson Redeems Himself


Following a much-maligned performance last week, wide receiver Robert Ferguson responded with three catches for 84 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown.

That catch typified the kind of play he yearned for when he declared himself a No. 1 receiver during training camp.

"That was a big play. I expect myself to make that play," Ferguson said. "If I'm going to sit up and talk about being a starter and things like that, I've got to perform. I brought that on myself."

Ferguson was actually the third option on the 51-yard completion, but he beat cornerback Jason Craft on an 18-yard comeback route and waved his hand to signal Brett Favre. That pass was the longest Packers reception of the season and Ferguson's longest of his career.

"That was a huge play in the game," head coach Mike Sherman said. "That was a great play by him and Brett."

Sunday's touchdown occurred after Ferguson's uneven performance on Monday. Carolina Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas jumped a route and stole the ball out of his hands during the second quarter to end a Packers drive to the Panthers' 29-yard-line. Operating on a shortened field, the Panthers would take a 23-7 lead on a two-play, 32-yard drive.

After a long talk last week with the five-year-veteran, Sherman knew he could count on Ferguson to rebound.

"It doesn't surprise me that he came out here and played the way he played. I knew he would do that," Sherman said. "He's a great kid who takes everything to heart."

Just as Ferguson did not bow his head after Monday's game, he did not gloat after Sunday's performance.

"We didn't' do anything there special today," he said. "We still have a tough road ahead of us."


Barnett's First Lambeau Leap

Linebacker Nick Barnett returned a Todd Bouman pass intended for Az-Zahir Hakim 95 yards for a touchdown with 8:36 left in the fourth quarter.

"I thought it was too good be to true. I thought we were going to get to the end zone, and they were going to throw a flag or something," Barnett said. "I know my Mom's at home saying, 'Yeah, that's my baby.'"

To score the game's final seven points, Barnett sat in a zone and jumped a spot route, a pass pattern the coaching staff had told him the Saints run in the red zone. He stole the pass and rumbled to the end zone, which culminated in his first Lambeau Leap into the crowd.

"I picked out someone there," he said. "They were cheering the loudest."

The leap celebrated Barnett's first touchdown and the second longest return for a touchdown in Packers' history. But Barnett said he was more fulfilled with the leap than his statistics.

"Since I got here, I was like, 'Man, I got get a Lambeau Leap'" he said. "I got the first one in -- hopefully one of many to come."


Rookie Debut

With the Packers up by a 45-3 margin, they rested Brett Favre with 14:41 in the fourth quarter and inserted Aaron Rodgers, giving the first-round pick his first regular season NFL action.

"It felt great," Rodgers said. "I knew there was only a couple of ways I would go into the game -- Brett getting hurt, which would probably never happen, and getting way ahead or way behind."

With the Packers ahead, Rodgers handed the ball off to running backs ReShard Lee and Tony Fisher on every play but one. He, however, completed his only pass attempt for zero yards to fullback Vonta Leach.

"I'll take handing off to Lee and Fish for a 52-3 win anytime," he said.

Sherman praised Rodgers' ability to run the offense during his brief appearance.

"His quarterback rating was very high -- one-for-one and one completion," Sherman said. "He did a good job. He managed the game."

Rodgers did not ask for a game ball, something he would have done had the offense had the game's final possession, allowing him to take the victory kneel-downs.

"That's the funnest thing," he said.

Rodgers performed in front of family and friends. His 23-year-old brother, Luke, who lives with him, attended the game along with Tim, a grade school friend from Oregon.

"I might have to bring him back," he said. "He might be a good luck charm."


Linebacker Shuffle

Rookie Roy Manning started at strongside linebacker for the injured Na'il Diggs, but Paris Lenon actually received the majority of the snaps there.

"We pretty much rotated," Lenon said. "I knew was I going to play."

Neither linebacker played in specific packages. Manning finished with four tackles, including one on special teams while Lenon had three tackles, including a special teams assist and a pass defended.

Linebacker Nick Barnett had eight tackles on the day and suggested playing both allowed them to contribute on special teams.

"It's a good rotation for them because they both play a valuable role in our special teams," Barnett said. "To keep them fresh, that's pretty good,"

Lenon, who has 22 tackles on the year, said it took a few snaps to enter the game's flow and pick up the quarterback's cadence.

"It's a little difficult just from a rhythm stand point," Lenon said. "Once you get out there for a little bit, you sort of get a feel for it."


Grady's Revenge

Defensive tackle Grady Jackson played against the New Orleans Saints, the team who waived him on Nov. 3, 2003.

Jackson seemed even more energized than usual, celebrating after several plays.

"I felt great, coming off the field," Jackson said. "I was real happy."

The nine-year-veteran not only filled his role of occupying blockers but also recorded four tackles, including dropping running back Deuce McAllister for a four-yard loss in the second quarter.

"He made plays." Lenon said "He was doing what he does best."

Jackson may have played an integral part in limiting McAllister to 31 yards on 11 carries, but he also visited with him and wide receiver Joe Horn, among other former teammates, after the game.

"The guys over there are always going to be my friends but not today," Jackson said.

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