Driver catches TD in 200th career game

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Donald Driver is no longer the playmaker he once was. But on Sunday, in the 200th career game of the Packers’ all-time leading receiver, Driver got to spend a few seconds in the crowd with a Lambeau Leap following a fourth quarter touchdown catch.

It was only Driver’s sixth catch all season, but getting in the end zone on a milestone game meant a lot to the 37-year-old veteran receiver.

“It was great,” Driver said after the game. “Any time you step on the field and help your team win, it makes you feel good. I was excited about going out there and getting an opportunity to make the plays that I made, and hopefully there’s many more to come.”

Driver joined former quarterback Brett Favre as the only two players in team history to play at least 200 regular-season games in a Packers uniform. Driver has a way to go to catch Favre, though, who appeared in 255 games during his 16 years in Green Bay.

“To pass up some of the greatest players to ever wear this uniform, it’s truly something special,” Driver said earlier this week. “You have to cherish this moment for a long time.”

Driver, who spent his offseason winning “Dancing with the Stars,” also became the 22nd receiver in NFL history to play in 200 games.

On Driver’s touchdown, with the ball on the 4-yard line, quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with him for the score to put the Packers up, 21-12.

“He’s real good at that route he caught the touchdown on,” Rodgers said. “Donald’s been around for a while, knows how to run his routes, knows how to get open. We know what we get out of Donald, we know what kind of player he is, what kind of professional. And when he gets opportunities, he’s going to make the most of them.”

Driver’s snaps have been significantly reduced this season, getting on the field on just 73 of Green Bay’s 497 offensive plays entering Sunday’s game. But with the Packers’ top two receivers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, both out with injuries, Driver had a few extra opportunities to contribute in the team’s 26-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Once those guys (Jennings and Nelson) are able to come back and play, you just hope you can continue to contribute as much as possible,” Driver said.

Driver, a seventh-round pick by Green Bay in 1999, restructured his contract this offseason to return to Green Bay for a 14th season. But even the decreased production that Driver had in the past two years — when he combined for 1,010 yards and 88 catches — is nothing compared to his lack of playing time this season.

Driver has mostly taken it in stride, but showed a bit of frustration earlier this week.

“I hope they haven’t kind of just completely took me out of the playbook,” Driver said Wednesday. “I don’t think you can complain. This is just a setback. You have to respect it and understand that it’s a business decision.

“I don’t think you ever expect your role to be (reduced like this). 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 it, and that makes my job much easier. I don’t have to come in here bitter and don’t want to be at work.”

Even after seeing the way this season has played out for him, Driver said he doesn’t have any regrets about his decision to stay with the Packers.

“It was all for the opportunity to win another Super Bowl, and for the fans,” he said. “It’s hard to leave fans who supported you throughout your career. 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.”

Fans certainly showed Driver plenty of love Sunday for his two-catch, 10-yard, one-touchdown performance. But when Jennings and Nelson are back from their injuries, Driver’s fans will likely have to be content once again with watching him play only a few snaps each game, at most.

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