Jennings, Jones Prepared To Fill Void If Needed

Donald Driver’s foot injury could be a significant setback to an offense that relies heavily on the receiver’s contributions. But if there is a silver lining, it’s that rookie James Jones has emerged as a quality NFL receiver and second-year man Greg Jennings appears capable of an increased role. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Jaguars Gameday


An old adage suggests no one is irreplaceable, but when it comes to Donald Driver, the Packers certainly do not want to test that theory.

However, they may not have a choice.

Driver suffered a foot injury near the end of the second quarter in Thursday night's game against the Jaguars when he was tackled after a 12-yard catch and according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the early prognosis is that the team's top wide receiver has a foot sprain.

Obviously, this could be a significant setback to not only Brett Favre, but an entire offense that relies so heavily on Driver's contributions. However, if there is a silver lining in this story, it's that rookie James Jones has emerged as a quality NFL receiver and second-year man Greg Jennings appears capable of an increased role in the offense.

Another consolation is that the regular season opener versus Philadelphia is still 16 days away, which should give both the coaching staff and the offensive unit an opportunity to come up with a proper contingency plan if Driver is out for an extended period of time.

According to Jones, everybody will have to pick up the slack.

"If he is out, if his injury is serious, definitely the guys have to step up and we're going to be a good football team," said Jones, who led the team with six catches for 80 yards Thursday and has 16 catches for 196 yards in three preseason games.

"Driver makes a lot of plays and he does a lot of great things for this offense and this football team. So offensive players and defensive players are going to have to step it up."

When asked if he's ready to move into a more prominent role, the 23-year old Jones gave the answer of a grizzled veteran.

"I'm confident in myself," he said. "But one person can't do it. It's a team effort so we've got to keep playing as a team and practicing as a team, and take it from there."

Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also confident in the set of receivers that may have to fill Driver's void.

"We have a bunch of playmakers," Rodgers said. "Greg Jennings is going to have a great season for us. James Jones has had a great preseason. It will be our job to get the ball to those guys."

{sportsad300}Perhaps the irony in all of this is that McCarthy and his coaching staff entered the game hoping to identify which backup players would prove themselves with the roster needing to be trimmed down to 75 by next Tuesday. The fact that Driver got hurt on a play where he was just trying to break a tackle, much like a younger player battling for a roster spot, shows what type of player he is.

And that's something that teammates, young and old, can learn from.

"That was just Donald being Donald, making a play and breaking tackles," Rodgers said. "I didn't see what happened at the end of the play, but we're just praying that he's going to be OK."

Of course, you can count McCarthy among those who is hoping that Driver's injury isn't serious. But he also admitted it's very difficult to evaluate players and try to avoid injury risks all at the same time.

"I can't control it," McCarthy said. "I was just trying to lower the risk of injury as far as how we handled the play time, so from that standpoint I feel like we accomplished that. Unfortunately injuries are part of the game."

"I think it's natural to say, 'Geez, I wish I would have taken him out with Brett,'" he added. "And I did... Hopefully it's not serious. I think early indications are that it's not. Tomorrow is a big day (in finding out the extent of the injury)."

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