Packers Notebook - Ferguson Sits Out, Will Play


Packers wide receiver Robert Ferguson sat out of practice Friday after tweaking a muscle in his back during pre-practice warm-ups.

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said he did not expect Ferguson's injury to limit his availability Sunday.

Offensive tackle Earl Dotson also missed practice due to back ailments. The 10-year NFL veteran, who has not practiced all week, was a late scratch last weekend against the 49ers after waking up Sunday morning with back cramps.

Sherman said Friday that he hoped Dotson could at least be able to fill in behind rookie Kevin Barry this weekend, but that it was too early to determine whether Dotson would be among the 45-man gameday roster. If not, Sherman said Jerry Wisne would be activated for backup duty.

On a more positive note, Gilbert Brown was back at practice Friday.

Brown has missed the last three games with an injured ankle and foot. Whether he will be able to play Sunday will be largely based upon how much swelling Brown experiences as a result of Friday's participation.

Proving It

It's not often that a guy comes off a Pro Bowl season feeling the need to prove himself, but that's the way it's been for tight end Bubba Franks this year.

After a 36-catch, 9-touchdown season put him in the Pro Bowl last season, Franks heard some of his detractors call him nothing more than a red zone specialist.

"A lot of people said that I shouldn't be at the Pro Bowl last year," Franks said. "I really shouldn't say that I had something to prove, but I felt like I needed to come out this year and have a bigger year than I did last year in order to kind of put away with all the criticism."

Franks has done just that. With two games to play, he has three fewer touchdowns than in 2001 (6), but has 15 more receptions (51) for 85 more yards (407).

And he's going to his second-straight Pro Bowl.

"I think the coaches concentrated a little bit more on me being more involved between the 20s," Franks said. "That was something that they stressed during training camp.

"The touchdowns were a little bit down this year, but the receptions were up tremendously ... That's big."

Fired Up

Despite the Packers' well-documented success at home when the temperature dips below freezing, Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe said he's looking forward to playing at Lambeau Field this weekend, when the temperature is expected to top out at 30 degrees.

"I'm fired up about it," Bledsoe said. "I've been there a couple times in the preseason and it's my favorite place to play in the league.

"It's not easy by any stretch. It's a very difficult place to play, but as far as the fans and the mystique and the history and everything that goes into it, it's my favorite place to play."

Also looking forward to the trip is Bills head coach Gregg Williams, who thinks that coming from a wintry Buffalo will keep his team from being distracted by the chill.

"I would think it would make it less daunting," Williams said of the frigid conditions.

"It's one of the best places in the National Football League to play a game, with all the tradition. That's special.

"I've liked the trips that I made up there before. The fact that we're a cold-weather team ... we're used to those situations."

Favre Factor

So why are the Brett Favre-led Packers 34-0 at home when the game-time temperature is below 35 degrees?

Fellow quarterback Drew Bledsoe does think Favre's large hands aid in ball control, but placed more of an emphasis on the exceptional play-making ability of the three-time MVP.

"They're a good team first and foremost, and then Brett is able to run around and make big plays at pivotal times in the game," Bledsoe said. "It's in those cold-weather games where you a lot of times find yourself playing field position football and it comes down to one or two plays.

"And Brett seems to be able to come up with those for them."

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