No experience necessary

Majority of Packers' roster includes players with no postseason experience

An established player who has been in the NFL for nine years and selected to three Pro Bowls isn't supposed to have any envy toward underlings.

Packers receiver Donald Driver, though, couldn't help but feel just a tad left out last Sunday. Driver was one of six key players the team deactivated for the mostly insignificant final regular-season game against Detroit.

"The first thing we wanted to do was put our uniform on and go out there and have fun with the guys. It seemed like they were having too much fun out there," Driver said. "Every time they came to the sideline, they were laughing and joking. That shows."

In all seriousness, Driver and his fellow idle veterans -- and those who were pulled after a quarter -- couldn't have been more content to step aside and let several young players put their handprints on the 34-13 rout of the Lions.

With more than 60 percent (32 players) of the 53-man roster dotted with first-, second- and third-year players, the Packers' prospects in the postseason could be made or broken by their youthful makeup. If its 13-3 NFC North-winning regular season was an indication, Green Bay should be fine once it resumes playing Jan. 12 after an opening-round bye.

The team's most tenured player, 17th-year quarterback Brett Favre, 38, is optimistic that teammates as much as 16 years his junior will remain unfazed.

"Time will tell whether or not we're ready," Favre said. "I don't know if anybody thought we were ready to become a 13-3 football team, including me. I never thought I'd be talking about a first-round bye and the opportunities that are in front of us. I think we just continue to do what we're doing.

"Once again, we have to play -- anyone should have to play their best football in the playoffs in order to go on. I think this team is ready."

The young players have played an integral part in Green Bay's unexpected success thus far since the start of the season. Counting the kicker and the punter, 18 of the team's 26 first- and second-year players have had a starting role.

Rookie Brandon Jackson, who couldn't cut it as the lead halfback at the outset of the season, looked like a seasoned star Sunday in relief of Ryan Grant. Jackson tore through the Lions for 113 yards in 20 carries.

"Brandon Jackson's a good example of (the youth being served)," center Scott Wells said. "He had very limited opportunities, as far as being THE guy in games, and he stepped in there and had an excellent day. It shows a lot that our team, even though it's young, is highly motivated, and they're going to take advantage of the opportunity any way they get them."

The Packers' reliance on so many young players throughout the season and exposing them to high-pressure situations perhaps will offset the fact that only 17 players on the 53-man roster have postseason experience.

Not knowing any better has paid off more often than not heretofore in the 2007 season.

"I think we play the way we play. I think we play loose," Favre said. "I don't know if it's an air of confidence that has gotten us to this point, but in the back of our mind, this (playoff football) is for real. You lose, you're out. Every play should count. Your preparation now -- I hate to say it should be different because I think your preparation for every game should be at an all-time high. But, if it wasn't, it better be now."

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