With the injury bug acting as pesky through one game of the 2003 season as it was for all of 2002, the Green Bay Packers are once again looking to mend gaps in the roster.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman indicated Monday that he's in search of at least one receiver to add to the squad after three of the team's five receivers went down against the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend.
"I've been unfortunate enough to experience a lot of different injuries in my tenure as head coach," Sherman said, "but considering what happened the other day at the receiver position, I think that I'm forced to look at all possibilities in regard to receivers."
Sherman said that a few players were being brought into Green Bay for workouts Monday, and although he didn't name names, he did acknowledge that current free agent and former Packers standout Antonio Freeman was among the list of potential candidates.
"He's a possibility, there's no question about that," Sherman said of Freeman. "But we've had contact with a lot of different guys that might have some familiarity with the offense and are healthy."
An eight-year veteran, Freeman spent last season with the Philadelphia Eagles where he played in 16 games, making 46 catches for 600 yards.
Freeman's familiarity with the Packers' offense would be a benefit, but Sherman said his base requirement is that the player has experience in any form of the West Coast offense.
"In order to get this done, (that) will probably have to be a criteria for us," he said.
Whatever moves the Packers make, they'll have to be made soon.
Although nothing has been stated definitively, Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Karsten Bailey all might be unavailable this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. That leaves Javon Walker and Antonio Chatman as the only healthy receivers, with Scottie Vines a possible call-up from the practice squad.
Driver suffered a severe neck sprain when he landed on his head after leaving his feet to catch a Brett Favre pass in the fourth quarter against Minnesota. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and has been hospitalized since.
The neck sprain is not expected to end Driver's season, but returning this week would seem unlikely.
Likewise, Sherman said Bailey has no better than a 50-percent chance of playing this week due to a strained hamstring.
Ferguson on the other hand, seems a better bet to be able to suit up against the Lions. The third-year receiver made six catches for 53 yards against the Vikings before leaving the game with knee and ankle sprains.
Sherman said the ankle sprain was of greater concern than the knee, but isn't ruling Ferguson out.
Ferguson underwent an MRI exam Monday and is scheduled to meet with the team physician Tuesday to monitor his progress.
"I'd say it's realistic that I say I can play," Ferguson said, noting that he played through a similar injury while at Texas A&M. "The good thing is I have had it before and I can handle it. I know how to get back on the field from it."
Regardless of Ferguson's availability, if Driver is out, Walker will become an even bigger target.
That's fine by Sherman, who suggested that Walker was at his best Sunday after Driver left due to injury.
"I think he was the No. 1 in the game the other day when it counted," Sherman said, referring to Walker's three receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown in the last 8:40. "He stepped up when the game was on the line and made some plays."