Driver Serves As Offense's Go-To Receiver

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When the next big snowstorm hits Green Bay, maybe wide receiver Donald Driver should grab a shovel and head to Head Coach Mike Sherman's house.

"If he shovels my driveway this winter, that might be the ultimate of everything," Sherman said. "He's been phenomenal."

Driver has done everything for the Packers but clear Sherman's driveway. He leads the team in receptions with 51 and yards with 710. And he posted those numbers despite being a focus of opponents' gameplans week in and week out.

"He's gonna be a marked man," wide receiver Andrae Thurman said.

With Javon Walker (knee) and Terrence Murphy (neck) on injured reserve and Robert Ferguson (knee) having missed the last three games, defenses have made containing Driver their objective.

To combat that, the Packers have moved Driver all over the field. They also line him up in the slot -- where Antonio Chatman used to play. Because the slot receiver plays in a confined space between the linemen and the outside receiver, defenses have more difficulty double teaming him.

"It's harder to guard a guy in the slot position than on the outside," Thurman said.

The slot usually runs "option routes" -- pass patterns predicated on what the defender does. Knowing they could face any route, defenders have to prepare even more diligently to contain Driver.

"The biggest thing is the coaching staff is putting me in spots to make plays," Driver said. "You just want the opportunity. They've given it to me, and I've made the best of it."

Driver has taken that opportunity and run with it. While catching 10 passes for 114 yards last week against the Falcons, he extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 57, the fourth longest streak in Packers history.

"They can't stop me," Driver said. "I'm going to get a catch in."

Once he makes that catch, Driver has shown a knack for breaking tackles and extending those receptions into longer gains. Driver averages 13.9 yards-a-catch but ranks fifth among wide receivers in the NFL with 226 total yards after the catch.

But fighting for extra yards has one drawback. He continues to absorb extra blows from the defense, and losing their marquee receiver would prove costly for a Packers team already without Walker and Murphy. Driver, however, will continue his hard-nosed style of play.

"Maybe I need to go down. I wouldn't be in so much pain after a play," Driver said. "If it's no major injury where I have to have surgery, believe me, I'm going to play regardless of the situation."

With Chatman in his third year and Thurman in his second year, Driver also has served as a leader to a callow but talented receiving corps. He breaks the ice during tense moments with a joke and makes the clutch plays at crucial times on Sundays.

"He's the glue," Thurman said. "He's a leader on and off the field."

On the field he has served as Brett Favre's go-to weapon all year long and shows no signs of letting up.

"Donald Driver has been an amazing player this year," Sherman said. "I can't say enough about him."

**

Ferguson Update

According to Sherman, Ferguson had a slight limp and some swelling in his left knee on Saturday, but his injury tweak should not serve as a major setback.

"Everything was okay," Sherman said.

The fifth-year receiver tried to practice on Saturday morning, but Sherman pulled him out. The Packers have listed him as questionable for Monday's game but will re-examine him on Sunday.

Ferguson re-injured his left knee while running a fade route toward the end of Friday's practice. He bumped knees with safety Nick Collins, aggravating the knee ligament he originally sprained on Oct. 23 against the Minnesota Vikings.

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