Receivers get off to fast start

The experiment that is the Green Bay Packers wide receiving corps passed its first test in flying colors. With starting split end Donald Driver looking like a seasoned pro and rookie Javon Walker coming up with a bevy of clutch catches, including a huge reception in overtime, the Packers sent notice to the rest of the National Football League that they have the potential to be among the top units following a dramatic 37-34 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.<p>

Driver, making just his fifth career start, led all receivers with seven catches for 78 yards, while Walker hauled in four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Add to that the play of veteran Terry Glenn, who was picked up in the off-season in a trade with New England and finished with a pair of receptions for 60 yards, and the Packers receivers couldn't have gotten off to a much better start, especially when you consider the Falcons feature two of the better corners in the league in Ray Buchanan and Ashley Ambrose.

At the beginning of training camp, Driver was slotted to be the team's No. 3 receiver behind Glenn and Robert Ferguson. However, Driver had an outstanding preseason and ultimately elevated himself into the starting lineup. While talent certainly has played in role in Driver earning the start, the fact that he begins the season as the only receiver to previously have worked with Favre helped, as well.

That point was evident throughout the game as it became clear that Favre's trust in Driver is sky-high.

"I guess you could say that once you have played with a guy for four years, you get used to each other," said Driver. "I had to make plays, and I made them. And I hope that I can get better and better."

Driver made plenty of plays at the end of the first half with the Packers' offense in a two-minute drill.

Trailing 21-10 with 1:15 left, Favre looked Driver's way five times and connected on four of those — gains of eight, 18, seven and 10 yards — which eventually led to a Green Bay field goal as time ran out.

"That's one thing that we've always worked on," Driver said about the comfort level be between himself and Favre. "You get to a point where he gets to feel you and understand where you are going to be on a play. He knew where I was going to be on certain plays."

Walker, a first-round draft pick this past April, didn't seem to have any trouble adjusting to the NFL, not to mention Favre's fastballs.

"You know, when my number was called, I tried to make a play," said Walker, who also looked good on special teams with three kickoff returns for 63 yards. "I'm more satisfied with the victory. Atlanta's a great team. It was a hard-fought battle, and I'm glad we pulled it out."

Favre was impressed by his receivers' ability to make reads and adjust.

Walker did just that on his 13-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter which put Green Bay ahead 27-24.

In motion from left to right, Walker was supposed to run and out and up, but instead switched the route. Getting his arms out, Walker was able to get around and behind Buchanan before hauling in the scoring pass in the back of the end zone.

"It was an adjustment," said Favre. "Robert Ferguson has got an out route on the play. He kind of adjusted and took it to the middle. Javon's got to run a post coming in and saw it was open.

"Both of them adjusted. Instead of Javon going up and out, he got around the guy. Our guys adjusted and made plays."

Walker's grab in overtime was an 18-yarder against on a second-and-six. The catch put the Packers in Atlanta territory and eventually led to the game-winning field goal by Ryan Longwell.

"(Javon) is an unsual rookie," coach and general manager Mike Sherman said. "He is well beyond his years. That's why we moved up to get him at pick (No.) 20. He's a young man that likes being a Green Bay Packer. He's just going to keep getting better."

Driver is hoping the receivers can use this fast start to keep defenses guessing, which is precisely what occurred against Atlanta. Not knowing who to focus in on, the Falcons' defense yielded 484 total yards — 273 passing and 211 rushing.

"I think we did a great job," said Driver. "They didn't know who was going to get the ball. They'd maybe double me, and Terry was open or the tight end was open, or (running back) Ahman (Green). It was a great thing for us."

Packer Report Top Stories