Tight end Donald Lee was the man of the hour for two straight days. After another top-notch performance in the 33-22 win at Kansas City on Sunday, Lee received a four-year, $11.9 million contract extension Monday.
"Donald Lee is a young man that's totally bought into the offseason program. He's taken advantage of every opportunity through the offseason," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Lee, who overtook longtime incumbent Bubba Franks for the starting job before the season started, is within striking distance of his career-high 33 catches. He posted that in his first season with the Packers in 2005, when they signed him after he was waived by Miami at the end of the preseason.
Lee is tied with rookie receiver James Jones for second on the team with 29 catches. Lee's 382 receiving yards is a career best.
Although Brett Favre and Greg Jennings worked in tandem for the late 60-yard touchdown that won the game for the Packers on Sunday, Lee received the game ball for the offense.
The fifth-year veteran was lauded for a clutch third-down catch along the sideline in the first quarter and then a short pass over the middle he turned into a 48-yard gain in the second quarter. He finished with four catches for 78 yards.
Lee's presence in the passing game, especially between the 20s, has turned Franks into an afterthought. Franks, a three-time Pro Bowl performer and former first-round draft pick, has missed the last two games because of a sprained knee and is expected to be sidelined at least two more weeks.
"He's really stepped up since Bubba has gone down," McCarthy said of Lee. "He's been very consistent, even when Bubba was in there when we were playing both of those guys. I can't say enough about him. I'm very happy with his production the first eight games."
The Packers had re-signed Lee to a one-year contract in February. He would have been an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The new contract has him signed with the team through 2011. He received a $2 million increase in his base salary this year, which counts against the team's 2007 salary cap. He will receive a $1 million roster bonus next March.
The Packers now have lucrative long-term contracts invested in two tight ends.
Franks signed a seven-year, $28 million deal before the 2005 season but could be on borrowed time, given his demotion from the starting lineup and his recent history of not staying healthy.