Another Milestone Awaits as Driver Just Waits

Assuming he gets on the field, Donald Driver will become the second player in franchise history to play in 200 games with the team. That will be a highlight as Driver's role, which has been on the wane the last couple years, has fallen off a cliff.

Donald Driver hasn't played much this season, but he's set to make some history on Sunday.

Unless he's inactive — he was held out of Wednesday's practice with a stiff neck — Driver will play in the 200th game of his Green Bay Packers career. Driver, who passed Bart Starr (196 games) earlier in the season, trails only Brett Favre (255) for most games in a Packers uniform.

"To pass up some of the greatest players to ever wear this uniform, it's truly something special," Driver said on Wednesday. "You have to cherish this moment for a long time."

Driver's 14th season in the NFL hasn't been one to cherish. Even with the offense struggling to start the season and with Greg Jennings having missed four-and-a-half games, Driver has barely played. In seven games, he's averaging about 10 snaps per game. He's been thrown seven passes, catching four for 45 yards. He's dropped two, including one in the end zone at Seattle that could have rendered the controversial finish irrelevant.

"When we get that opportunity, we've got to step up and make the most of it," receivers coach Edgar Bennett said when Packer Report asked recently about Driver.

When asked if that drop against Seattle was a "big deal" in Driver's diminished role, Bennett said only that: "All drops are big deals in my mind."

At age 37, it's hardly a surprise to see Driver's production take a tumble. Not only is Driver the oldest wide receiver in the league, it's not even close. Driver was born on Feb. 2, 1975. Denver's Brandon Stokley was born on June 23, 1976, making him almost 16 1/2 months younger than Driver.

In 2009, the last of Driver's big seasons with 70 receptions, 1,061 yards, a 15.2-yard average and six touchdowns, he averaged 55 snaps per game (by Packer Report's count) and was targeted 109 times (by's count).

In 2010, when Driver fell to 51 catches for 565 yards, an 11.1 average and four touchdowns, he played about 44 snaps per game and was targeted 82 times.

In 2011, when Driver fell further to 37 catches for 445 yards, a 12.0 average and six touchdowns, he played about 33 snaps per game and was targeted 54 times.

It's not a perfect formula because there are other variables, including the maturation of Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, but Driver's targets per snap show a declining ability to get open. In 2009, he was targeted every 8.73 snaps. In 2010, that fell to one out of every 10.11 snaps. Last year, it was one out of every 10.43 snaps.

This year, his target rate is the same: one pass thrown his direction out of every 10.43 snaps.

"If you look at the last couple years, my snaps have been reduced and they've been really reduced this year," Driver, smiling for the TV cameras, said. "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."

After catching a 26-yard touchdown pass against Chicago, Driver has been practically invisible. He dropped his only pass at Seattle, caught a 3-yard pass against New Orleans and caught one pass for 14 yards against Indianapolis — a big one that put the team in position to force overtime — but dropped another. Last week, Driver ran a 2-yard out on third-and-3 and couldn't get the first down.

"I don't make those decisions," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Driver's playing time. "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 (too). It's a long season, though, at some point we're going to count on him making the plays he's capable of making. Until then, he's just going to be a great (leader) and look for his opportunities. And when he gets them, we expect him to make them."

Until then, Driver continues to show up and work. Last week, offensive coordinator Tom Clements called Driver an "excellent leader," pointing to Driver's frequent conversations with undrafted rookie receiver Jarrett Boykin.

Driver said he has no regrets about taking a pay cut to stay with the team, only to barely get on the field for the club he joined in 1999.

"I don't think you ever expect your role to be (reduced)," he said. "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."

Is there a role on the team for the franchise's career leader in receptions and yards?

"I don't know. I hope so," he said. "I hope they haven't just completely took me out of the playbook."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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