What the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver hasn’t done is publicly complain about being on the sideline in street clothes as his Packers career winds down. Driver was inactive in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota, then was inactive again for Saturday night’s 24-10 victory over the Vikings at Lambeau Field, which likely was the final home game of his career.
The Packers would have to beat San Francisco next Saturday and hope that fifth-seeded Seattle beat top-seeded Atlanta to set up an NFC Championship Game back at Lambeau Field. And even then, there’s no guarantee he’d be active for that game, either. Driver seemed likely to suit up Saturday night with wide receiver Jarrett Boykin (ankle) out, but he was on the sideline instead.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy complimented Driver Sunday afternoon for the way he’s handled the disappointment of his time in Green Bay winding down this way. After agreeing to a pay cut, the 37-year-old reigning Dancing with the Stars champion will be a free agent after this season, his 14th in the NFL.
“Donald Driver is a class act, to say the least. He's a pro's pro. He does everything you’ve ever asked of him,” McCarthy said. “We’ve had conversations of late here, with part of what’s going on with him being active and inactive, and he's handled it very well. He’s an excellent teammate. Everybody clearly understands what he means to this organization and what he's done. He’s out there preparing every day, getting ready to play. He may have an opportunity this week, we’ll see how it shakes down.”
The fact that Driver doesn’t play special teams has been the deciding factor, McCarthy suggested. On Saturday night, Driver was deactivated in favor of rookie linebacker Terrell Manning, who was a key player on the coverage units.
“Those are very difficult decisions to make when you have a healthy 53 (players), to get to 46,” McCarthy said. “When you put the emphasis on special teams and you have young man like Terrell Manning that gets his opportunity and he wins a game ball on special teams and also has the ‘big hit’ award, that’s why you have to make those kind of decisions. It’s part of the way it sorts out through game-planning, and special teams obviously plays into it.”
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