Receiver could play after vicious clothesline

Updated: January 7, 2005, 7:53 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There's a slight chance that Packers wide receiver Robert Ferguson could play Sunday, just three weeks after a clothesline hit by Jacksonville's Donovin Darius left him temporarily paralyzed.

Robert Ferguson
Wide Receiver
Green Bay Packers
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
24 367 1 15.3 48 59

Green Bay coach Mike Sherman upgraded Ferguson from doubtful to questionable for the playoff game against Minnesota after Ferguson performed well at Friday's practice, his first full workout since the injury.

Ferguson, however, hasn't had any contact yet, and that will probably prevent him from suiting up Sunday. The more likely scenario is for him to play next week at Atlanta should the Packers beat the Vikings.

Even if he were to play against the Vikings, Sherman said there's no way Ferguson would return kicks.

Ferguson is still experiencing headaches but has regained sensation and strength in his extremities, and team doctors cleared him this week to return to the field.

His new helmet was equipped with a visor to cut down on the glare that continues to bother him. His chin snap and face mask was broken on the old helmet, which was stripped from his head when he was hit Dec. 19 by Darius, drawing a 15-yard penalty, an ejection and a $75,000 fine from the NFL.

Ferguson said he appreciated a phone call from Darius in the hospital, but he didn't like Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio referring to him as "that guy" instead of by name while defending his safety over the vicious hit.

Robert Ferguson
APFerguson temporarily lost feeling in his legs after this clothesline from Darius.
As late as Monday, the Packers were doubtful Ferguson would play again until next summer.

"When he's laying there on the field, and you see him in the MRI machine, you're just hoping he's going to be OK as a person, not as a football player," Sherman said. "And you know, with Fergie, he just is a fast healer and a tough, tough kid. So, you just expect once he's back on his feet he's going to get out there somehow some way."

Ferguson said he can't wait to get hit again and that this whole experience will make him a better player.

After catching 43 passes for 593 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, Ferguson had 24 receptions for 367 yards and one score this season while playing in the shadows of 1,200-yard receivers Javon Walker and Donald Driver.

"When you're down and you're thinking this is it, I might not walk again or whatever, you want to leave your mark on the game," Ferguson said. "You don't want to be one of those guys who just came in and played and never tapped into their talent. And I feel I haven't tapped into my talent at all right now."

So, he said he'll be more assertive about a bigger role in the offense.

"Since I was young, I've always been the ultimate team player, but I feel like now I've learned you have to be selfish in some ways," he said. "I think every great player is selfish in a way."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press