GREEN BAY – Donald Driver doesn’t know where he fits into the Green Bay Packers’ offensive game plan – if at all. But the franchise’s all-time leading receiver said Wednesday he doesn’t plan on complaining about it.
Driver enters Sunday’s game against Jacksonville having caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown this season in vastly reduced playing time. After playing 829 snaps in 2010 and 563 last year (including playoffs), he’s played 73 snaps this season, or roughly a dozen per game.
Driver played only three snaps in the Sept. 9 season-opener against San Francisco, entering the game in the final minutes after Greg Jennings’ groin injury. Since then, he played 12 snaps against Chicago, four against Seattle, 18 against New Orleans, eight against Indianapolis, 16 against Houston and 12 last week against St. Louis.
For comparison’s sake, according to ProFootballFocus.com, Jordy Nelson has played 434 snaps, James Jones 420, Randall Cobb 241, Jennings 136 and undrafted rookie free agent Jarrett Boykin, the team’s No. 6 wide receiver, 15.
“I hope they haven’t just completely took me out of the playbook,” Driver said. “I think there’s an opportunity for me.
“I don’t think you ever expect your role to be (reduced). It happens when you transition to a certain point and mine did, and I think you have to be OK with it. When you’re OK with it, then everybody else around you will be OK with it. I’m fine with, and that makes my job much easier. I don’t have to come in here bitter and don’t want to be at work.”
Asked how he’s handling the reduced role, Driver said he’s taking it in stride and not causing a stir.
“I don’t think you can complain. The most I’ve complained is when I was a child. That’s when I struggled more than anything else. This is just a setback. You have to respect it and understand that it’s a business decision,” Driver said. ““I’m going to handle it the same way I’ve handled it all season long. If you look at the last couple years, my snaps have been reduced and they’ve been really reduced this year. It’s not a bad thing.
“The thing is, there’s a lot of guys playing well and those guys are playing to the best of their ability. When the opportunity presents itself, I’ve got to be ready to play. I’ll be ready when that day comes.”
On Wednesday, with Jennings seeking a second opinion on his groin injury and Nelson limited by a tight hamstring in practice, Driver would have gotten some work with the starters on offense in multiple-receiver sets had he not sat out with a neck injury himself. He downplayed the injury but the timing certainly wasn’t good.
Asked what he thought Driver’s role was on the team, quarterback Aaron Rodgers replied: “Well, I don’t make those decisions. I’m going to defer to the staff. We’ve obviously had some guys step in make some plays. Randall’s getting opportunities and making the most of them. And James and Jordy. It’s a long season though, at some point we’re going to count on him making the plays he’s capable of making. ... And when he gets them we expect him to make them.”
For his part, Driver said he didn’t have any regrets about returning for another season after his Dancing With the Stars championship. In fact, he said he came back in part for the fans.
“I came back, it was all for the opportunity to win another Super Bowl and for the fans. It’s hard to leave fans who supported you throughout your career, and they supported me throughout this process, especially this offseason with Dancing With the Stars. You can’t let them go. Every time I catch the ball in that stadium, it goes crazy. I don’t think I could have gone anywhere else and got the same love.”
Return to: Jason Wilde Blog