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Driver Practices, Moves On From Fall


Ten days ago, as he lay motionless on the Lambeau Field turf, Donald Driver's career -- if not also his ability to walk -- appeared in jeopardy.

Now the only thing left to question is whether Driver will play this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Listed as questionable on the team's injury report, but considered "day-to-day" in terms of his comeback attempt from a badly sprained neck, Driver was back on the practice field Wednesday and looking to move forward.

"I feel pretty good right now," said Driver, who until two days ago was wearing a protective neck brace.

"The biggest thing is I'm up and walking. I just feel like I got a second chance to -- I don't know what it is -- to prove something, I guess."

It's hardly the first time in his life that Driver has faced adversity. Growing up in Houston, his family fell into such poverty that for a while they lived out of a U-Haul trailer.

By comparison, Driver's current situation is so benign that it's almost unmentionable.

But that's only after the fact. It's certainly not the way things looked September 7, when in the fourth quarter of the Packers' season opener against Minnesota, Driver left his feet to catch a Brett Favre pass, twisted around in the air and came down on his head; a crash so severe that Driver remembers little of it, and refuses to watch a replay.

"I remember jumping up and after that, once I hit the ground, I went blank," Driver said.

When he came to, still lying on the field, Driver was looking into the eyes of team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie.

Driver's "memory was gone," but he had movement in his extremities. And with his own initial fears put at ease, Driver began to think of his wife Betina, and their now 7-week-old son, Cristian.

"That's the biggest thing for me, just thinking what my wife was upstairs thinking," Driver said. "She didn't know anything: were my feet moving, or my hands?"

A hushed crowd of 70,505 wondered the same.

Driver was removed from the field on a stretcher. Within hours the prognosis was positive, and by the next day (Sept. 8) GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman predicted that his No. 1 receiver could return as early as this week.

So far, so good. Wednesday, Driver suited up in pads, but the day's practice didn't include any live tackling and Sherman indicated that Driver might be withheld from such situations later in the week.

"Practicing and getting hit are obviously two different situations," Sherman said. "Today simply was to get him out there moving around and to see how his head feels, his neck feels. From that point, we'll just take it day by day."

If Driver doesn't soon demonstrate that he'll be fit to play Sunday, he'll have to be held back in practice as well so the Packers' healthy receivers can get the needed reps. However, if one practice is any indication, Driver appears to be on a fast-track to recovery.

"I thought he looked fine," Favre said. "Had you not known or seen his fall, you would have thought it was just another day at the office for him."

Unless a setback occurs to make him think otherwise, that's just the way Driver is going to treat it.

For now his participation relies on the approval of doctors, but once cleared to play, the 2002 Pro Bowler vows to be just as aggressive as before.

"They're saying don't jump that high again, but if the ball goes that high, I'm going to have to go get it," Driver said.

"You're always nervous on what's going to happen, but you still have to play this game -- regardless of what situation you're in -- without fear. And that's the way I'm going to play."

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