WR Donald Driver has seen his snaps, and consequently his production, greatly reduced in 2012, but the Packers’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards said on Wednesday he has no regrets about restructuring his contract to return to Green Bay after winning the “Dancing With The Stars” competition in the spring.
“No. When I came back, it was all for the opportunity to win another Super Bowl, and for the fans,” Driver said. “It’s hard to leave the fans that supported you throughout your career, and they supported me throughout the process, especially this offseason with ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ and you can’t let them go. You have to continue.
“You think about every time I catch a ball in that stadium, it goes crazy. I don’t think I would have gone anywhere else and gotten the same love.”
Driver has just four catches for 45 yards and one touchdown through seven games this season, and he has played only a handful of snaps in some games, even with WR Greg Jennings sidelined with a groin injury. He said he didn’t expect such a reduced role, but he’s staying positive with the thought that he could be called upon more later in the season. Driver missed practice on Wednesday due to a neck injury, but he said he’s fine.
“I don’t think you ever expect your role to be this way,” he said. “It happens, and it transitions to that certain point. Mine did. I think you have to be OK with it. When you’re OK with it, then everyone else around you will be OK with it.”
As a team leader for a long time and now a national celebrity, it’s clear by Driver’s words that he’s well aware his public demeanor is being watched closely.
“I don’t think you can complain,” he said. “The most I’ve complained is when I was a child. This is just a setback. You have to respect it, understand it’s a business decision, and when it’s all said and done, hoping that I get a little more playing time.”
Driver said he hopes the coaches haven’t taken him “completely out of the playbook,” and he vows to be ready for any opportunity that comes his way. QB Aaron Rodgers acknowledged that Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley are all options getting more attention at this point, but over a long season there’s no telling when things might change. Rodgers probably remembers as well as anyone that Driver was his best receiver in the playoff defeat to the Giants last January.
“At some point we’re going to count on him to make the plays he’s capable of making,” Rodgers said. “Until then he’s going to be a great teammate and look for his opportunities and when he gets them we’ll expect him to make the plays.”
On another note, it was announced this week that Driver will be inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame on Dec. 6. A seventh-round draft pick out of Alcorn State, Driver joins former Philadelphia Eagles WR Harold Carmichael from Southern University in the eight-member class of 2012 inductees. The SWAC Hall of Fame already includes Pro Football Hall of Famers Willie Davis from Grambling and Jerry Rice from Mississippi Valley State.
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