Another Tight End to Contain?

The Vikings limited Antonio Gates to one catch for 10 yards, and this Sunday they'll have to face another successful, if not as well-known, tight end.

First, he is honored with a game ball. Then, he cashes in with his first lucrative contract as a pro.

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.


  • RB Ryan Grant had to leave Sunday's game in the fourth quarter because of a mild concussion. His status for the upcoming contest is unknown. Grant made his first career start and had 92 all-purpose yards (55 rush, 37 pass) before getting hurt.

  • TE Bubba Franks is expected to remain out at least two more weeks as he recovers from a sprained knee. Franks has missed the last two games.

  • DT Corey Williams suffered a game-ending knee injury in the third quarter Sunday, but the injury wasn't considered to be serious.

  • QB Brett Favre had his second-most prolific game of the season, throwing for 360 yards on 24-of-34 accuracy. He brushed off two early interceptions by rallying the Packers to the win with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Favre has thrown three TD passes of at least 60 yards in the last two games.

  • WR Greg Jennings co-starred with Favre as game-winning heroes for the second straight game. Jennings was on the receiving end of an 82-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime at Denver in the previous contest. Jennings had two TD receptions Sunday and leads the team with six.

  • WR Donald Driver led the club Sunday with five catches for 99 yards, highlighted by a 44-yard grab in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal. The yardage total was Driver's highest since he had 126 in Week 3 against San Diego. He's in a five-game dry spell without a touchdown and has only two this season.

  • CB Charles Woodson iced the victory Sunday with a last-minute 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. Woodson has two defensive scores in 2007, the first time he has done that in a season in his 10-year pro career. He returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the win over Washington in Week 6.

  • WLB A.J. Hawk came up with his first interception of the season Sunday, which led to the first of Jennings' touchdown receptions in the third quarter.

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