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Notebook: Driver Comes Up Big Again


For all the dropped passes that plagued the Packers on Sunday, receiver Donald Driver caught just about anything thrown in his vicinity.

The eight-year veteran playing in his 100th career game had yet another big game as Brett Favre's go-to guy, catching eight passes for 153 yards, including several critical plays.

  • His 48-yard catch-and-run on a hitch play set up the Packers' third score to make it 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
  • His diving 11-yard catch over the middle on third-and-9 from the New Orleans 18 gave the Packers a first-and-goal, but Favre was intercepted in the end zone on the next play.
  • On the touchdown drive that tied the game at 20, he caught passes of 22 and 42 yards, both on third down on opposite sidelines. The latter was a difficult, juggling catch against tight coverage from Mike McKenzie.
  • On the Packers' last TD drive, he not only took away a potential interception by Jason Craft but corralled the lob pass in traffic for an 11-yard gain on third-and-10.

"He makes plays in situations where other guys could make them but don't," Favre said. "Is he the tallest? The fastest? Does he have best hands? Is he the quickest? No. But when you need someone to make a play, you go to Donald Driver. That's the mark of a hell of a player and that's what he is."

It was Driver's 14th career 100-yard receiving day after coming 4 yards shy of 100 last week. He's now seventh on the Packers' all-time list in that category.

He pushed his yards-from-scrimmage total to 169 on the day (and his career total over 5,000) with a 16-yard rush on a reverse in the third quarter, outrunning former teammate McKenzie around the corner.

"I knew if I gave him a move, he'd slow down," Driver said. "He was pretty much waiting on me to go back outside, but I kind of gave him a little dead leg, and he fell for it."

Bush limited, but makes impact

The Packers' defense did an admirable job containing Reggie Bush, limiting him to just 109 all-purpose yards, but the Heisman Trophy winner was able to make two key third-down catches on New Orleans scoring drives.

Bush was held to just 5 yards on six carries on the ground, and his eight receptions were a team-high for 68 yards. He also had four punt returns for 36 yards, displaying his amazing stop-and-start ability at times. All that averaged out to 6.1 yards per touch for Bush, a solid effort.

Bush's longest play was a 23-yard gain on a swing pass to open a drive that ended with a Saints field goal late in the third quarter.

"He's a great athlete," safety Marquand Manuel said. "We tried to limit him as much as we could, but he's going to make plays. That's going to happen. I think he executed their plan for him."

That plan was to be a factor on third down, and that's when Bush made his two most damaging plays. A 10-yard catch on third-and-8 kept the Saints' first touchdown drive alive midway through the second quarter, allowing them to pull within 13-7. He also snagged a 7-yard pass on third-and-6 early in the third quarter, helping the Saints score the go-ahead touchdown to make it 27-20.

New return men

The Packers had a busy week leading up to the Saints game, adding wide receiver Koren Robinson and running back Vernand Morency through separate transactions. The moves were made to not only add a little kick to the offense, but also to the kick return units as well.

The Packers got their first glimpse of their newest additions as both Robinson and Morency were activated and returning kicks on Sunday.

Of the five kick returns, Robinson handled four and gained 73 yards. Morency returned the other for 28 yards.

Though Robinson's average per return may not have been impressive, to his credit, he played through a sore knee and obviously had very little experience with his new team going into the game.

Still, that didn't prevent the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Pro Bowler from wanting to win just as badly as his teammates that have been here for an extended time.

"I'm glad to be back on the team and I'm going to give my all," he said. "I'm going to give 120 percent regardless of where I am playing. And it's going to show in my emotions. I'm going to show it in interacting with the fans and with my teammates. I'm a fighter. If people have to look at me for inspiration, or whatever it may be, we have to fight. We have to get it turned around."

When asked if he would have preferred to play from scrimmage as a wide receiver, the competitive Robinson didn't mince words.

"You're not in the right job if you don't want the ball or more opportunities to help your team win," he explained. "But we'll see. I'm coming in here to play a role. I know I'm not going to start right away. I know I am going to do kickoff returns. So, if I get plays next week on the offensive side of the ball, that's great, but if not, that's fine also."

Holding the line

Daryn Colledge got the chance to show exactly why the Packers thought so highly off him coming out of Boise State. He got his first NFL start on Sunday, replacing left guard and fellow rookie Jason Spitz, who was out with a bruised thigh.

It may be a tad too early to determine how Colledge fared until both he and the coaches break down game film this week, but for Colledge, always a stand-up, straight-forward guy, one thing has changed since his early struggles in training camp and that's his comfort level.

"I guess I played good enough just to lose," he said. "But I did better. It was a lot better than against San Diego (in the preseason opener). I felt a lot more comfortable out there. I feel like I can compete, but I definitely have some corrections I can make. I made a couple little mistakes and one big one so I have something I can work on tomorrow."

Overall, Colledge was disappointed with the final result despite receiving his first start.

"This team is going to keep fighting as long as it can," Colledge said. "We had a chance to step on it, put the game away and we didn't capitalize. That's on the offensive line and the offense. The defense did a great job. They gave us the ball in a lot of great positions."

Dime DB

The Packers didn't use a dime defense (six defensive backs) at all in Week 1 against Chicago, but they did use it on a handful of snaps against the Saints.

Rookie safety Tyrone Culver was the sixth defensive back. He estimated he was called upon five or six times, and a couple of times he thought the Packers surprised the Saints with the dime package, forcing them to take a timeout and change personnel.

"We got a lot of reps with it this week, and I had a lot of reps in preseason," Culver said. "My comfort level is there, it's just a matter of when I'm in there doing my assignment."

Cramping troubles

Cornerback Ahmad Carroll went down with cramps with a minute left in the second quarter and the Saints driving. The Packers were forced to take an injury timeout to attend to him.

He stayed in the game, only to have the Saints go right at him on the next play, as Drew Brees hit Devery Henderson with a 26-yard TD pass to put New Orleans ahead 14-13.

A few plays earlier, fellow corner Al Harris left the field late in the first half with cramps and took some fluids intravenously in the locker room at halftime. He returned to play the second half.

Quick substitution

Rookie guard Tony Palmer, picked up on waivers during Week 1, replaced right guard Tony Moll for a few snaps on the Packers' first third-quarter drive. Moll went in as an extra tight end on one of those plays, and then he returned to his customary right guard spot later.

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