Training Camp Report: WR Ferguson On Trading Block

The Packers are looking to trade veteran wide receiver Robert Ferguson, and whether or not a deal is worked out in the next day or so, Ferguson will no longer be with the team, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after practice Thursday evening. - More Training Camp Photos | Audio | Video


The Packers are looking to trade veteran wide receiver Robert Ferguson, and whether or not a deal is worked out in the next day or so, Ferguson will no longer be with the team, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after practice Thursday evening.

"We're going in another direction," McCarthy said, noting the Packers were in discussions with a couple of teams about Ferguson, so he was asked not to practice Thursday evening. "We're just moving on with the other guys."

Ferguson's career with the Packers comes to an end after six seasons. A second-round draft choice in 2001, Ferguson caught 116 passes for 1,577 yards and 12 touchdowns in Green Bay but was victimized by injuries that forced him to miss 36 of a possible 96 regular-season games.

Last year, Ferguson was lost for the season after just four games with a bad foot sprain, the third straight year his season ended prematurely due to injury.

McCarthy credited Ferguson for his work ethic and professionalism during this summer's training camp, which included two receptions for 7 yards in last weekend's preseason opener in Pittsburgh.

But Ferguson was clearly trailing in the race for the No. 4 receiver spot to back up the top three of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and rookie James Jones.

"We feel good about what the other guys are doing," McCarthy said. "I think Ruvell Martin has had an excellent camp. I think Carlyle Holiday has had a very good camp, and I think he really stepped out on special teams. And as you get down the line, at any position groups, special teams is going to factor. That's every position."

Starters' workload to double

McCarthy said he's looking to play the starting offense and defense about 25 to 35 plays in the second preseason game Saturday against Seattle.

That's about twice as much as the 12 to 15 plays that were part of the gameplan last weekend in Pittsburgh.

But it isn't so much the number of snaps McCarthy is focusing on as the production that he sees from his top units. The No. 1 defense got off to a solid start in Pittsburgh, allowing just one first down in three series. But the No. 1 offense gained just 12 yards and no first downs in four drives, and that's where some continuity must be found.

"We want to get out there and get into a rhythm," McCarthy said. "Get our timing better. Our execution wasn't very high."

The poor execution left the Packers with an average of 10 yards to go on third down on those four drives. A fumbled center-quarterback exchange cost the offense 5 yards on the second possession, and a holding penalty backed it up 10 on the fourth drive.

"We just have to put ourselves in better position to convert on third down and sustain some drives," Jennings said. "If we can get the ball rolling and the comfort level rises, we can start to gel as an offense. We didn't even give ourselves a chance to really gel as an offense out there. We didn't put ourselves in the best situations."

As was the case last week, rookies Brandon Jackson and Korey Hall will start at tailback and fullback, respectively. Vernand Morency still hasn't practiced since the first day of training camp, and Brandon Miree's stinger wasn't healed enough for him to return to contact drills this week.

Jackson was projected to play a half but played the first three quarters last week when he only had eight carries through two quarters. He got eight more in the third for a total of 16 (for 58 yards), and McCarthy said his touches will be in that range again.

Other playing-time decisions on offense will hinge on how much certain players need to work with quarterback Brett Favre.

"Just start off fast, basically that's what we need to do," Driver said. "We've got to throw the first punch. Last week, Pittsburgh threw the first punch on us. We went four series, three-and-out. This time we can't do it. We have to put points on the board."

On defense, cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson did not play last week but are expected to start on Saturday. They may not play the full 25 to 35 snaps the other defensive starters will and just play the first quarter, according to McCarthy. That's likely because the competition for the third and fourth cornerback spots is so hotly contested that it will benefit all the contenders (Patrick Dendy, Jarrett Bush, Frank Walker and Will Blackmon) to get some snaps with the rest of the defensive starters.

{sportsad300}Get the ball out

Several drills in training camp have focused on either stripping or securing the ball, and there was yet another one on Thursday.

Defensive players lined up about 5 to 7 yards from a tackling dummy with Velcro-covered arms. Footballs with a Velcro patch were then stuck to the dummies, simulating a quarterback with the ball cocked and ready to throw.

With a circle separating the defender from the "quarterback," players ran around the outside to simulate a blind-side rush and then slapped the ball away from the dummy as they made the tackle. Then they had to hop up and pounce on the loose ball.

Interestingly, that's exactly how the Packers got their lone turnover in Pittsburgh last week. On the Steelers' third snap from scrimmage, defensive end Cullen Jenkins reached out, knocked the ball from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's hand, and made the recovery.

A few misses from long range

Kickers Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby both went 1-for-3 on field goal tries from 54 yards, which is the length of the team record for a regular-season game.

Before getting to that distance, Rayner was 3-for-5 on a series of kicks between 28 and 47 yards. He missed from 30 and 38. Crosby made all five of his shorter kicks.

Injury, participation update

Running back DeShawn Wynn (quad) still has not returned to practice, and McCarthy said he hopes he'll be healthy for the final two preseason games against Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Offensive lineman Tony Moll (neck/stinger) returned to team drills in the evening but then sat out full-contact work toward the end of practice.

Backup left tackle Orrin Thompson (knee) returned to practice Thursday, while offensive lineman Travis Leffew sat out the evening practice with dizziness after taking a shot to the head in the morning. Their availability, along with Moll's, will determine how the No. 2 offensive line takes shape for Saturday's game.

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